(ABC News) -- Washington Wizards center Jason Collins has come out as gay, prompting two of the NBA's biggest stars to voice their support for his trailblazing announcement.
"I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay," Collins wrote in an exclusive article for Sports Illustrated that was published today.
By sharing the news he'd kept private for so long, Collins became the first openly gay professional athlete in a major American team sport.
After the article was published this morning, Los Angeles Lakers Stars Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash were quick to share their support.
"Proud of @jasoncollins34. Don't suffocate who u r because of the ignorance of others #courage #support #mambaarmystandup #BYOU," Bryant tweeted.
Nash tweeted that "the time has come" and said he had "maximum respect" for Collins.
The NBA veteran, who has played for six teams over the course of 12 years, said he felt it was the right time to publicly come out before he began to refocus on his next season.
"I still love the game, and I still have something to offer. My coaches and teammates recognize that," he wrote. "At the same time, I want to be genuine and authentic and truthful."
Collins predicted the news may come as a shock to NBA players, many of whom he has counted as teammates over the course of his career.
"I go against the gay stereotype, which is why I think a lot of players will be shocked: That guy is gay? But I've always been an aggressive player, even in high school," he wrote.
While Collins didn't expect to be a trailblazer, he said he was "happy to start the conversation" about being an openly gay athlete.
But he also has some serious business ahead of him -- training for his 13th season in the NBA.
"In the pros, the older you get, the better shape you must be in," he wrote. "Next season a few more eyeballs are likely to be on me. That only motivates me to work harder."