President Barack Obama said he told Jason Collins that he “couldn't be prouder” of Collins' decision to come out gay.

During a press conference on Tuesday, Obama shared his thoughts on Collins, a 12-year NBA veteran and currently a free agent, becoming the U.S.'s first openly gay professional athlete.

A few seconds after leaving the podium, the president pivoted and returned to the microphone.

“I'll say something about Jason Collins. I had a chance to talk to him yesterday. He seems like a terrific young man. I told him I couldn't be prouder. You know, one of the extraordinary measures of progress that we've seen in this country has been the recognition that the LGBT community deserves full equality – not just partial equality, not just tolerance – but a recognition that they're fully a part of the American family. Given the importance of sports in our society, for an individual who has excelled at the highest levels in one of the major sports, [to] go ahead and say, 'This is who I am. I'm proud of it. I'm still a great competitor. I'm still seven foot tall and can bang with Shaq and deliver a hard foul.'”

“I think a lot of young people out there who are gay or lesbian, who are struggling with these issues, to see a role model like that who is unafraid – I think it's a great thing and I think America should be proud that this is just one more step in this ongoing recognition that we treat everybody fairly. Everybody's part of a family and we judge people on the basis of their character and their performance and not their sexual orientation. So I'm very proud of him.”

First Lady Michelle Obama and former President Bill Clinton also applauded Jason Collins.

(Related: Kobe Bryant, Ricky Martin, Neil Patrick Harris, Steve Nash tweet support for Jason Collins.)