LOS ANGELES — Gay St. Louis Rams defensive end Michael Sam on July 16 gave an emotional speech as he accepted the Arthur Ashe Courage Award during the ESPY Awards that aired on ESPN.
“Great things can happen when you have the courage to be yourself,” said Sam as the Associated Press reported.
The news wire reported several people who attended the annual awards ceremony became emotional as Sam spoke. The AP said the out defensive end thanked his boyfriend, Vito Cammisano, who accompanied him to the ESPYs, and the Rams.
Sam, a former University of Missouri defensive end, came out in February.
He became the first openly gay man drafted into the National Football League in May after the Rams picked him during the seventh round. The team last month signed Sam to a four-year, $2.65 million contract.
Tony Dungy, a former coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts, on July 20 sparked controversy when he told a Florida newspaper that he would not have drafted Sam.