Michael Sam has a long journey ahead of him to be a successful NFL player with the St. Louis Rams, but the 2013 SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year was the star of the 2014 ESPYs after being honored with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.
When Sam took the stage at the ESPYs to accept the award, you knew there would be a lot of passion and emotion in his words. The defensive end more than lived up to the hype with an inspirational speech about life, love and acceptance, via the ESPYs' official Twitter:
“I am here tonight to say the lessons I’ve learned about love and respect and being true to yourself will never leave me.” - @MichaelSamNFL— ESPYS 2014 (@ESPYS) July 17, 2014
As Missouri football's multimedia director, Kathryn Lucchesi, said on Twitter right after the speech, being able to open your heart like that on a worldwide stage is nothing less than amazing:
Michael Sam's speech was simply amazing. Incredible. I am so, so proud of him for getting up on stage and sharing his heart. #mizzoufamily— Kathryn Lucchesi (@KatLucchesi) July 17, 2014
There wasn't a better moment during the 2014 NFL draft than when Sam, who announced to the world that he was gay during a February interview with ESPN's Chris Connelly, got drafted in the seventh round and broke down in tears while on the phone with Rams coaches.
It was a landmark moment in professional sports, one that could serve as an inspiration to anyone who felt different or like an outcast because of their race, sexuality, gender or whatever else.
The one quote from the speech that stands above the rest came at the end, with Sam speaking about courage and being yourself, via the ESPYs' official Twitter:
Too often in life we are too afraid to be ourselves, whether it is out of fear of offending someone around us or because we want to hide something for which we could be persecuted by people.
When you cut yourself off from the world, the only person being hurt is you. Hopefully Sam's inspirational words can serve as a stepping stone for all of us to do good things and not be afraid to show the world the best we have to offer.
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