President Barack Obama has praised University of Missouri football player Michael Sam for announcing he is gay ahead of a critical moment in his career.

President Obama commented in a taped interview with Charles Barkley that aired during TNT’s pregame coverage of Sunday’s NBA All-Star game.

“I really like the fact that Michael did it before the draft because his attitude was, ‘You know what, I know who I am. I know I can play great football and judge me on the merits,” Mr Obama said.

Sam could become the US National Football League’s first openly gay player – if selected for the NFL draft.

He came out in an interview on 9 February.

First Lady Michelle Obama tweeted last week to say she was “proud” of Sam’s achievements both on and off the field.

Elsewhere on Sunday, President Obama issued a strong statement warning the President of Uganda not to sign the country’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

Last Friday, President Museveni signalled that he was ready to sign the draconian bill.