First lady Michelle Obama will host the first openly gay National Basketball Association player and survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing as guests during President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday.
The White House early Monday announced the first round of people who will sit in Michelle Obama's box at the speech, an annual tradition in which the administration tries to highlight high-profile events from the past year.
Among the first lady’s guests: Jason Collins, the NBA player who became the first active gay professional athlete in the United States; Carlos Arredondo and Jeff Bauman, survivors of last April’s Boston bombing; and Gary Bird, fire chief in Moore, Okla., who led the community’s response to a tornado that killed 25 people.
Also attending the speech as a guest of the first lady are Joey Hudy, a 16-year-old intern at Intel, who designed an “extreme marshmallow cannon” at the White House Science Fair in 2012, and Kathy Hollowell-Makle, 2013’s teacher of the year for the District of Columbia Public Schools system.
Typically, people joining the first lady for the State of the Union are mentioned in the president’s address to the nation.
Last year, Obama waded into the debate over whether Collins, a 12-year NBA veteran, should have come out as gay.
"He seems like a terrific young man, and I told him I couldn't be prouder," Obama said last April of a phone call he made to Collins. "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."
Collins was unable to sign with an NBA team this year.
Arredondo, the Boston Marathon spectator famously donning a white cowboy hat, carried the injured Bauman away from the race. Bauman, who lost both of his legs, helped authorities identify the men responsible for the bombing.
Obama's address to Congress on Tuesday will showcase his priorities for the next year, highlighting his blueprint to combat income inequality and ways he plans to sidestep Congress to make progress on a long-stalled agenda.
The White House will release the full list of the first lady's guests before Tuesday's address.