updated 04/30/2013 AT 8:00 AM ET
•originally published 04/30/2013 AT 8:45 AM ET
Yes, Jason Collins feels a certain amount of pride. But he also feels enormous relief.
“A huge weight has been lifted. I’ve already been out to my family and my friends, but just to, you know, sort of rip the Band-Aid off and come out on my own terms I hope that every player makes a decision that leads to their own happiness.”
Collins, 34, a 7-foot center for the Washington Wizards, understands that his decision isn’t just personal but historic – and he hopes other gay athletes follow his lead.
Collins says he struggled with his sexuality for years, and was even engaged to a woman once. “I sort of describe it as, you know the sky is blue but you keep telling yourself it’s red,” he says.
Eventually he told his parents, who were supportive, and that changed everything. “Once you have that big talk with whoever that is in your family and you get that support, you get that love, you know the rest of it is kind of downhill from there,” he says.