Jason Collins, a veteran centre in the National Basketball Association (NBA), announced on Monday (April 29) that he is gay, becoming the first active player from any of the U.S. professional sports leagues to publicly reveal his homosexuality.

Collins, who played with the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards this season and is now a free agent, made the announcement in an interview with Sports Illustrated, published on Monday.

"I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation," he said.

"I wish I wasn't the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, 'I'm different.' If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand," he said.

The 34-year-old has played for six teams in the NBA and reached the NBA finals twice, and says he intends to continue in the sport.

Presented by Adam Justice