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April 30th, 2013
11:27 AM ET

Collins fmr. high school coach: 'We were very proud of him' for coming out

On Monday, NBA center Jason Collins revealed he is gay in a "Sports Illustrated" essay, making him the first openly gay player still active in a major pro sports team in the U.S. His public revelation garnered support from players, coaches and fans.

President Obama also took note, calling Collins "to express his support and said he was impressed by his courage," a White House official told CNN. First lady Michelle Obama also showed her support for Collins on Twitter.

This morning on "Starting Point," Collins' fmr. high school basketball coach Greg Hilliard joins “Starting Point” to discuss the announcement.

Hilliard, who still coaches at the Harvard-Westlake school in Los Angeles, says he reached out to his former student after the essay was released to “let him know we were very proud of him.”

“The whole community out here is supportive of him taking that first step and wanted to let him know we will be with him in the rest of the steps,” he adds.

On whether or not he was surprised by the reaction and support, Hilliard says “I think the support is great… now that we've heard the news are just eager to be there for him and let him know that we admire his courage and he is exactly who we knew he was, and the perfect guy for this role.”

Hilliard says Collins will definitely face challenges, both one-on-one and through the media.

“I think he's the guy who is strong enough to deal with this,” Hilliard says.

Filed under: Basketball • Gay rights
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