Michael Sam’s Arthur Ashe Award Speech

An extremely emotional and eventful year for former Mizzou defensive lineman Michael Sam got even more touching last night when the Mizzou Made St. Louis Ram received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2014 ESPYs.

Sam came out publicly in February, and then in May he became the first openly gay player to be selected in the NFL Draft.

Sam’s acceptance speech was nothing short of inspiring, and epitomized exactly what the award stands for: incredible amounts of courage. Sam was genuine and candid all throughout the five-minute speech, having to pause several times to gather his emotions.

“To anyone out there, especially young people, feeling like they don’t fit in and will never be accepted, please know this: great things can happen when you have the courage to be yourself,” Sam said.

Sam recorded 11.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss as a standout defensive force during the team’s Cotton Bowl run last season, earning first team All-American and SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors along the way. The Rams took him with the 249th pick in this year’s NFL Draft.