The White House has announced that openly gay NBA player Jason Collins has been invited to join Michelle Obama during her husband’s State of the Union address this week.

Collins will join the First Lady during the address which is scheduled to be given on Tuesday by Barack Obama.

Guests are often chosen to join the First Lady of the United States because of a policy the President is promoting, or because they represent a current issue.

Collins last year 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.”

Michelle Obama, tweeted a simple message of support to the NBA star, who was the first player in a US professional major team sport to come out as gay and keep playing. She said: “We’ve got your back”.

After coming out, the star was subject to a tirade of abuse on the social networking site Twitter, including a number of death threats.

Despite some abusive messages, Collins received thousands of messages of support, including from President Barack Obama, and former President Bill Clinton, his teammates, coaches, the Commissioner of the NBA, and countless others.

Collins will join others including Carlos Arredondo and Jeff Bauman, who were celebrated for helping identify bombers at the Boston Marathon last year, Gary Bird, a fire chief in Moore, Oklahoma, whose team worked through the path of a massive tornado to help victims, Joey Hudy, a 16-year-old budding scientist and mathematician, and Kathy Hollowell-Makle, a teacher in the public school system who has been praised for above-average grade results.