Former NFL player and Super Bowl Champion LeRoy Butler, who had an appearance at a Wisconsin church cancelled over a congratulatory tweet to recently out gay NBA payer Jason Collins, has said he would not take back the tweet because of kids looking up to him.

Butler said he had a $8,500 (£5,500) speaking appearance cancelled by a church over a congratulatory tweet he sent to Collins.

He said he was offered the chance to still appear there if he retracted his congratulations, and apologised to the church.

Jason Collins on Monday spoke about his sexuality, confirming he is gay in an article in Sports Illustrated magazine. He said: “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.

Butler has since appeared in an interview with Anderson Cooper, and explained his reasons for not wanting to retract the congratulations.

“Some 16-year-old kid is somewhere in a closet with his father’s gun that he found,” he said.

“And he’s thinking about putting it to his head, because he’s been tormented in school every single day. Because they may have found out he was gay, or they suspect that he’s gay. He doesn’t have a voice right now. You’re asking me to take all that back so he doesn’t have a voice. I won’t do that.”

The appearance at the church, which Butler has refused to name, was reportedly due to be around bullying.

“When I touch on bullying, you know, then that’s the problem that they had, because they didn’t want me to use Jason as a part of the bullying. And I thought, well, that’s just crazy to me,” he said.

“When did we get to this, starting to judge who gets to be a part of what society? It just bothers me,” he continued.

“Only God can judge,” tweeted Butler, after announcing that he had the engagement cancelled.

Since coming out, Collins has revealed that he had been making a quiet statement of solidarity with the gay community, every time he stepped out onto the court, by wearing a 98 jersey, in memorial of murdered Wisconsin student Matthew Shepard. 

Collins has received thousands of messages of support, including from President Barack Obama, and First Lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton, his teammates, coaches, the Commissioner of the NBA, and countless others.