Former NBA player Jason Collins, who last year became the first professional athlete to announce he is gay, will be among those sitting with first lady Michelle Obama during the State of the Union address, the White House announced Monday.
Collins, 35, played for six NBA teams over his 12-year professional career and was named the NCAA’s “Big Man of the Year” while at Stanford University. After his announcement in April, President Barack Obama called Collins to say he “couldn’t be prouder” of him.
Also sitting with the first lady will be two survivors of the Boston Marathon bombings: Carlos Arredondo, 53, and Jeff Bauman, 27. The two became friends after the attack, when Arredondo rescued Bauman after the blasts. In what became perhaps the most famous photo from the bombings, Arredondo – wearing his white cowboy hat – rushed a badly injured Bauman, who lost both of his legs, away from the bombing to safety. From his intensive care hospital bed, Bauman played a key role in identifying the bombing suspects.
Moore, Okla. Fire Chief Gary Bird will also be part of the group. Bird led the response after the EF5 tornado that hit Moore, killing 25 men, women and children and devastating more than 1,000 homes and businesses.
Joey Hudy of Anthem, Ariz., a teenage self-described “maker” who became Intel’s youngest intern earlier this month will also be part of the first lady’s box. Hudy created the “extreme marshmallow cannon” that the president took an interest in during the White House Science Fair in 2012.
Washington D.C. Public Schools 2013 Teacher of the Year Kathy Hollowell-Makle will also be sitting with the first lady. She taught in the District for more more than 15 years, beginning as a Teach for America member in 1998. She currently teaches at Abram Simon Elementary in Southeast Washington, D.C., where more than 90 percent of her students showed early literacy at proficient or advanced levels and last year, more than 80 percent of her students advanced two or more reading levels, according to the White House release.
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