January 25, 2017
Michael Sam, University of Missouri football star, NFL free agent and trailblazer, is an American football defensive end who made history when he came out as gay ahead of the NFL draft, making him the first openly-LGBT player to be drafted in any major American sport. Since his announcement he has become an icon and pioneer for the LGBT community.
Hailing from a tiny Texas town and the seventh of eight children, Sam endured a childhood of adversity, challenges and pain. With a portion of his early years spent living in a car with his mother, Sam developed steadfast determination to make a better life for himself, identifying sports as his ticket out.
In high school he went from water boy to star player, earning first-team All-District honors all four years. He was the first in his family to graduate high school, and recalls the highlight of his life, when his mother wept at his graduation. “I knew I had made my mother proud,” he said.
Sam was presented with offers from numerous schools and found his home and secured a scholarship at Missouri where his football career culminated in being named a first-team All-American and Co-SEC Defensive Player of the Year.
Predicted to be drafted early in the 2014 draft, Sam was drafted by the St. Louis Rams as the 249th of 256 players selected, after he came out as gay during an ESPN interview. He is currently an NFL free agent.
In 2014 he was named one of GQ Magazine’s Men of the Year, was a finalist for Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year and the recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs.
Sam is convinced that everything happens for a reason and that maybe his purpose is now no longer the NFL but as an advocate and ally of LGBT.
He spoke to the Mount Ida audience of the struggles that lie ahead in the next four years and urged them to “Continue the fight. Be an ally for LGBT. If those before me like Reverend King and Jackie Robinson could do it so can I – and so can you. You are not alone – Now go tell someone you are thinking about them and love them.”