LOS ANGELES - St. Louis Ram Michael Sam, the NFL’s first openly gay player, received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs tonight.
Sam came out in February ahead of the NFL draft before being tapped by the Blue and Gold in the seventh round.
Greeted with a standing ovation, Sam was presented the award at the Nokia Theatre by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnston.
"This year I had a lot of experience being part of something bigger than myself. At times, I felt like I'd been living in a massive storm, ... but the lessons learned — love, respect and being true to yourself — will never leave me," said the former Mizzou defensive lineman.
Sam then quoted Arthur Ashe, the tennis legend and HIV/AIDS Icon — "Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can," — and noted, "Those were the words to live by, whether you're black or white, young or old, straight or gay. ... Football raised me, football taught me about hard work."
Sam gave a moving and heartfelt speech, and closed things out by speaking directly to young people "who are 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."