Ellen DeGeneres knows what it’s like to come out in the public eye, which is why she had a few congratulatory words for Washington Wizards basketball player Jason Collins, who just yesterday came out as the first pro athlete in a U.S. team sport to be openly gay.
In the opening monologue for her daytime talk show, DeGeneres talks about how “very brave” Collins is, and in her typical fashion, adds in a few jokes. “He’s seven-feet tall so when he came out of the closet, he had to duck,” DeGeneres said.
She went on to “applaud” the player and offer him a congratulatory hug. “I would high-five you, but I don’t think I could reach you. But when I see you, I’m going to hug your knees so hard.”
But in all seriousness (with a little humor thrown in), DeGeneres added, “You’re an incredible role model. Because of you, there is a little boy playing basketball right now who knows that he can be who he is and play the sport that he loves. Now that little boy’s only obstacle is that he’s going to be 5’4″ and terrible at basketball, but you’ve done your part so…”
DeGeneres wrapped things up with one final sentiment, telling viewers to “be proud of who you are.”
“If you’re gay, it shouldn’t stop you from being anything you want to be, whether it’s a Washington Wizard or a regular wizard,” she said. “So thank you, Jason. You did an incredible thing, most importantly for yourself but also for your sport and for everyone, and I dedicate this dance right here to you.”
Watch the monologue below: