On Feb. 9, University of Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, announced that he was gay. Since then, the decision has been analyzed by numerous people in and out of the sporting world.
The latest story to stem from the announcement occurred Saturday afternoon when protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church showed up on campus for a men's basketball game versus Tennessee.
However, a line that not even Sam himself could breach showed up in his defense.
According to the university group's Facebook page, 4,895 students attended the event to drown out the protesters and show their support for Sam.
Since the protesters planned to be near Mizzou Arena at 1:30 p.m.—where Missouri plays its home basketball games—students gathered at 1 p.m. to show their support for their classmate.
Among other supportive gestures, the students sang various school fight songs throughout the afternoon as many stayed well over an hour. Braving cold temperatures, a large segment of the student body showed why the school's motto is "One Mizzou."
Following the protests, the Mizzou basketball team tipped off at 3 p.m. At halftime, the school honored their 12-2 Cotton Bowl champions, who were presented with the Cotton Bowl trophy. And, naturally, Sam was the first player to hold up the hardware.
As Sam raised the trophy, the Mizzou crowd erupted into a standing ovation.
Once some key players were finished raising the trophy, the team started to make its way off the floor. One man was a bit slower to exit, however. Sam sprinted over toward the student section inside Mizzou Arena and did his famous tackle celebration to the delight of the packed crowd.
On the football team, Sam had 129 teammates in all. On a chilly Saturday afternoon, he had nearly 5,000.
In two facets, this day at the University of Missouri was special.
Sam showed beyond a doubt that he's a man comfortable in his own skin and isn't afraid of what others think, and the Mizzou faithful showed they will stand with him.
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