Jason Collins never expected that he would be the one to make history but he was ready to do it.
Sitting down with ABC's George Stephanopoulos for his first interview since coming out in a Sports Illustrated editorial published on Monday, Collins admitted that he finds it "kind of mind-boggling" that he became the first active openly gay athlete in major U.S.team sports.
"I never set out to be the first," Collins told Stephanopoulos during an interview that first aired during "Good Morning America" on Tuesday. "You're sort of waiting around for somebody else to, you know, raise their hand. I'm ready to raise my hand but, you know, you still look around like, 'OK, come on, guys.'"
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Collins, a 34-year-old NBA center who entered the league in 2001 and played for the Washington Wizards and Boston Celtics during the 2012-2013 season, discussed with Stephanopoulos what it took for him to become comfortable in his own skin, his eventual decision to come out and the overwhelming support he has received after his public revelation.
"It's incredible. You're just trying to live an honest, genuine life and the next thing you know you have the president calling you," Collins said of the reaction that he has received. "He was incredibly supportive and he was proud of me, said this not only affected my life but others going forward."
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"I know in my personal life I'm ready. And I think the country is ready for supporting an openly gay basketball player," Collins said during the interview.
In his moving first-person piece in Sports Illustrated, the 12-year NBA veteran who attended Stanford University details the process of coming out to his family, including his twin brother, Jarron, who had no idea that he was gay.
"He's been incredibly supportive," Collins told Stephanopoulos of his younger -- by eight minutes -- brother's reaction, adding that "Now he's sort of taken on that role of protecting me."
A free agent, Collins expects to find such support among his future teammates and opponents.
"From my teammates, I'm expecting support because that's what I would do for my teammates," Collins said. "A team is like a family. The NBA is like a brotherhood. I'm looking at it that we'll all support each other on and off the court."
While it remains to be seen if Collins will find a team for the 2013-2014 NBA season, he remains at peace with his decision to come out.
"I know that I right now am the happiest that I have ever been in my life," he added at the conclusion of the interview.
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