Michael Sam to Receive the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the 2014 ESPYS

Yesterday various news outlets announced that Michael Sam, a former defensive end at the University of Missouri, would be the recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2014 ESPY Award Ceremony on July 16. The award is given to an individual who exemplifies courage and transcends sports, reflective of the character of its namesake. 

In February of this year, Michael Sam publicly announced that he was gay. If all goes according to plan during the next several days of the NFL draft, Sam will become the first openly gay player in the NFL. During his interview with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America, Sam stated, “It’s a great honor to be presented this award, I am so happy.”

“Arthur always believed in and practiced leading by example,” said Ashe’s widow, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe. “When Michael Sam announced that he is gay, he courageously stepped forward to engage an issue that still remains a pervasive problem in many professional sports. Michael has displayed true leadership both on and off the field.”

When asked to comment on his announcement and the strength and courage it must have taken to do so, he said, ” You know, I don’t think there is anything courageous about what I did. I look forward to when we can live life in a world when gays don’t have to come out in public.”

Prior to making a public statement about his sexuality in February, Sam came out to his team at University of Missouri, affectionately known as ‘Mizzou.’ His teammates and coaches were incredibly supportive and the team went on to have a fantastic season, with a record of 12-2. 

On Good Morning America, Robin Roberts inquired if Sam wanted viewers to know anything in particular on the eve of the NFL draft, to which he responded, “I’m here to stay. Michael Sam is here to stay. I’m not going anywhere. I want to thank everyone for their support.” 

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