Former president Bill Clinton on Monday congratulated NBA center Jason Collins for coming out, making him the first openly gay male professional athlete.

Collins, an NBA free agent, came out gay in a cover story for Sports Illustrated.

(Related: NBA's Jason Collins: First openly gay professional athlete.)

Clinton's daughter Chelsea Clinton and Collins were classmates at Stanford.

“I have known Jason Collins since he was Chelsea's classmate and friend at Stanford,” Clinton said in a statement. “Jason's announcement today is an important moment for professional sports and in the history of the LGBT community. It is also the straightforward statement of a good man who wants no more than what so many of us seek: to be able to be who we are; to do our work; to build families and to contribute to our communities. For so many members of the LGBT community, these simple goals remain elusive. I hope that everyone, particularly Jason's colleagues in the NBA, the media and his many fans extend to him their support and the respect he has earned.”

In a tweet, Chelsea Clinton added: “Very proud of my friend Jason Collins for having the strength & courage to be the first openly gay player in the NBA.”