NFL player Michael Sam accepts the Arthur Ashe Courage Award onstage during The 2014 ESPYS at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on July 16, 2014 in Los Angeles, Calif.
Michael Buckner/Getty for ESPYS

Michael Sam tells young people to ‘be themselves’ at ESPYs

“Great things can happen if you have the courage to be yourself,” said an emotional Michael Sam Wednesday night while accepting the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2014 ESPYs.

Sam, who made history earlier this year by becoming the first openly gay player drafted into the National Football League, thanked his family, mentors, former teammates at the University of Missouri, current teammates on the St. Louis Rams, and his boyfriend, Vito Cammisano, who was brought to tears when Sam called him his “inspiration.”

To others, it’s Sam who’s the inspiration.

“The way I see it, my responsibility at this moment in history is to stand up for everybody out there who wants nothing more than to be themselves openly,” he said.

The audience erupted in applause when Sam told a story of speaking with a young woman considering suicide because she was gay.

“When we spoke she told me that she would never consider killing herself again, and that somehow my example helped her,” said Sam, fighting back tears.

Watch the entire speech below:

Gay Rights, Michael Sam and Sports

Michael Sam tells young people to 'be themselves' at ESPYs