Ellen DeGeneres on Monday joked that Jason Collins had to duck out of the closet.

Collins is the U.S.'s first openly gay professional athlete. The 34-year-old Collins, an NBA free agent, came out in a cover story for Sports Illustrated.

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

“You have no idea what a big deal that is,” DeGeneres said during her monologue. “He is the first professional athlete to reveal he's gay while he's still playing. Some players have come out after they've retired, but no active player has ever come out before. It was more challenging for him. He's seven feet tall, so when he came out the closet he had to duck..”

“Good for him. I applaud you Jason Collins. I applaud you. That's a brave man.”

“I would high-five you, but I don't think I could reach you,” she added. (The video is embedded on this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)