Michelle Obama invites Jason Collins, Boston Marathon bombing survivors to SOTU box

Kevin C. Cox

The first openly gay active NBA player and two of the faces of the Boston Marathon bombing will be guests of honor during the State of the Union Address on Tuesday night.

First Lady Michelle Obama's guest list for her husband's State of the Union Address has been released, and several members of the sports community will be in attendance. Jason Collins, the first openly gay active NBA player, and two survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing will join the first lady in the presidential box as President Obama addresses the nation on Tuesday night.

Presidents often invite guests to illustrate specific topics addressed in the speech. Among the issues President Obama is expected to discuss on Tuesday are gay rights and response to national tragedy, according to USA Today.

Collins became the first athlete among the four major American professional sports to publicly announce that he is gay, doing so in a Sports Illustrated article last year. A 12-year veteran who has played with six different teams, he has been celebrated as a hero for the LGBT community. He and the first lady co-hosted a Democratic National Committee fundraiser last May to benefit LGBT donors. A free agent at the time of his announcement, Collins is not currently on an NBA roster.

Interestingly enough, Collins, who spent a season with the Boston Celtics, said at the time of his announcement that the camaraderie shown after the Boston Marathon bombing was what convinced him to finally come out.

Two of the faces of that tragedy will join him for the president's address. Carlos Arredondo and Jeff Bauman were famously photographed in the aftermath of the attack last April as Arredondo, wearing a white cowboy hat, wheeled an injured Bauman away from the carnage. Bauman lost both of his legs in the attack. The pair have become a symbol for the courage and resilience displayed by victims and first responders, and threw out first pitches at a Boston Red Sox game six weeks after the bombing.

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