NBA Commissioner David Stern presented Jason Collins with the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network's (GLSEN) Courage Award at the group's tenth annual Respect Awards at Gotham Hall in Manhattan on Monday.

Collins, a 34-year-old NBA free agent, was being honored roughly three weeks after he came out gay on the cover of Sports Illustrated, making him the U.S.'s first openly gay professional athlete.

Stern was joined in introducing Collins by openly gay high school linebacker Leo Washington.

“When Jason Collins called me on Monday, April 29 to share his upcoming news, I told him what I would repeat now, and that is, he has the complete and total support of the entire NBA family,” Stern told the crowd.

Washington called Collins a “hero” and “a guy who has made sports history.”

“As I'm sure you can imagine,” Collins said in accepting his award, “the past couple of weeks have been surreal.” He thanked gay athletes who preceded him, such as Martina Navratilova, and fellow NBA players “like Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neill and my brother Jarron Collins … for their immediate support when they took to Twitter.”

“Unconditional support is so key when someone first comes out,” he added. “I hope that my actions will give the next person in future generations that continued hope and courage.” (The video is embedded on this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)