NBA's first gay player appointed to Obama's fitness council


President Obama has appointed Brooklyn Nets center Jason Collins, the first openly gay NBA player, to serve on his Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, the White House said Thursday.

Obama also tapped daytime television host Rachel Ray and former Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning, who earlier this year hosted the president at his home for a fundraiser benefitting the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. 

Misty Copeland, the first African-American female soloist in more than two decades at the American Ballet Theatre, and Robert Shepardson, a staffer on the president's election and reelection efforts, were also named to the group.

“I am grateful that these impressive individuals have chosen to dedicate their talents to serving the American people at this important time for our country," Obama said in a statement. "I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead.”

The president has been outspoken in his praise for Collins, who revealed he was gay in a Sports Illustrated essay last year. The NBA star was a guest in the first lady's box at the State of the Union address this year.

"He seems like a terrific young man, and I told him I couldn't be prouder," Obama said shortly after Collins's announcement. "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."

The fitness council is tasked with advising the president and Secretary of Health and Human Services about ways the administration can engage and educate "Americans to adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity and good nutrition," according to the White House.