There are only two days in the year that there are no major sporting events going on in North America. On Wednesday, one of those days was spent honoring the courage of Michael Sam.
With all of the sports world turned to see the nation’s best recognized for their hard work, Michael Sam took center stage at the ESPYs Award Show in Los Angeles on Wednesday to accept the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage.
Sam joins the likes of Muhammad Ali, Jim Valvano, and Pat Summit to be awarded this honor named after the tennis player who was the first and only black male to win the singles title at Wimbledon, US Open, and Australian Open.
Everyone knows the story of Michael Sam. Sam was the Co-Defensive SEC Player of the Year after an astounding year at defensive end for the Missouri Tigers, leading to his team to a Cotton Bowl victory.
However, Sam was elevated to the national forefront when he announced that he was gay in February. When he was drafted in the 7th round of the NFL Draft by the Rams, he became the first gay athlete in American team sports.
In a video that played before he given the award, we see a new side of Michael Sam that no one has seen before. ESPN Films released new footage of Sam’s period of waiting during the NFL Draft, showing the emotion he felt as we waited three days to hear his name and fulfill his dream.
In his acceptance speech, Sam mentioned how important Ashe was to the sports world.
” ‘Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can’… Those are words to live by, whether black or white, young or old, straight or gay”.
Sam also mentioned a story about a young girl, who was a lesbian, who was considering suicide rather than live with her secret. Instead, she decided to keep on because of Sam’s example.
Sam ended with a quote that will hopefully inspire others like Sam to follow in his footsteps.
“Great things can happen when you have the courage to be yourself”.