Michael Sam’s Father Struggling with His Son’s Sexuality

The NYT has published a background story on football player Michael Sam's challenging upbringing in Missouri, which he says was more challenging than his decision to come out of the closet. Sam's father's reaction to that coming out reveals some of those difficulties, the paper reports:

SamsrLast Tuesday, Michael Sam Sr. was at a Denny’s near his home outside Dallas to celebrate his birthday when his son sent him a text message.

Dad, I’m gay, he wrote.

The party stopped cold. “I couldn’t eat no more, so I went to Applebee’s to have drinks,” Sam Sr. said. “I don’t want my grandkids raised in that kind of environment.

“I’m old school,” he added. “I’m a man-and-a-woman type of guy.” As evidence, he pointed out that he had taken an older son to Mexico to lose his virginity.

On Sunday night, just after Michael Sam announced his intention to make sports history, his father was still struggling with the news.

Sam Sr. loves his son, and he said he hoped his son made it to the N.F.L. “As a black man, we have so many hurdles to cross,” he said. “This is just one he has to cross.”

But he expressed discomfort at the very idea of a gay N.F.L. player, even if the player was his son. He grumbled that Deacon Jones, the Hall of Fame defensive end renowned for his toughness, “is turning over in his grave.”

Michael Sam says when he visits home, he usually stays with friends.

Life had hardly been kind to him or his family. Michael Sr. and his mother, JoAnn Sam, were separated after having eight children. He went to North Texas to work as a trucker. She tried to keep what was left of her family together.

A sister drowned when she was 2, before Michael was born, when another child accidentally knocked her off a fishing pier. Another brother, Russell, was 15 when he was shot and killed trying to break into a home, in what his father said was part of a gang initiation. Another brother, Julian, has not been heard from since he left for work one day in 1998; his family believes he is dead. Two others are in jail.

Read the full profile HERE, which reveals how Sam overcame his family troubles to head to college and get to where he is today.


  1. jeffg166 says

    No wonder Michael Sam has the intestinal fortitude to come out. He’s be to hell and back already in his personal family life.

  2. Rob says

    Good grief what a dysfunctional family. It may be hard for Michael to be in the public eye because of it. Here’s wishing Michael happiness and success from here on out.

    Personal observation – humor comes from pain and I bet Michael Sam is very funny once you get him going.

  3. DavidAZ says

    That father. Took a son to Mexico to lose his virginity? Christ, what a piece of work he is. Hope Michael is able to keep that man at a distance and, like so many of us have had to do, concentrate on building his own healthy family of choice.

  4. disgusted american says

    what a f’d up father….”awe my son isn’t eatin pussy and bein a baby daddy for numerous women… waaaaa waaaaaa”…LOSER father!!!!!

  5. Dastius Krazitauc says

    Old school, like having gay men marry women, having children, and then everyone being miserable.

  6. NotSafeForWork says

    Oh STFU Mister, Celie aint taking your BS anymore. 10-1 his attitude will change once JR gets a big dollar contract and Mister wants a new suit, hideous gold jooree and a Lexus.

  7. Phil says

    “I’m old school,” he added. “I’m a man-and-a-woman type of guy.” As evidence, he pointed out that he had taken an older son to Mexico to lose his virginity.

    Nice person. Find an impoverished third world woman to submit to prostitution, then tell everyone how upstanding you are. Nice.

  8. rjinva says

    Really? Two in jail, one killed in a gang initation, another missing and probably dead, a little girl drowned after being pushed off a pier by another child & this man is out of sorts and goes drinking because his son is gay? This is one of the saddest things I’ve ever read. My heart goes out to Michael Sam. May he continue to have the courage to live his own life.

  9. Nirgal says

    “I don’t want my grandson raised in that kind of environment. Pretty much I’d like to see him raised in the kind of environment where he’d be taken to Mexico to lose his virginity. Or where might join a gang and get shoot. Or…”

    Yeah. Good parenting at its prime. How nice is that?

  10. Chris L. says

    Sam seems to be the best son out of the whole lot. Hopefully, the father will open his eyes and see.

  11. rroberts says

    Hey Michael Sam … if you’ve made it this far with the courage you’ve already shown us, you’ll go places young man. There are thousands of people who are rooting for you in more ways than just on the field. Just look around you – you have “family”. We’re very proud of you.

  12. Joe in Toronto says

    As a black man, we have so many hurdles to cross,” he said.

    I’m continually amazed how black many people – who may have experienced much discrimination in their lives – find it acceptable to discriminate agains LGBT people.

  13. Mark says

    Okay, I read this story twice. Top to bottom. Took the story apart as much as I could to see if there was something I missed. After stepping back and taking a deep breath, I conclude that Michael Sam, Jr. is the only one in the lot that became successful.

    Michael Sam, Jr. is apparently the only one among them to have avoided a criminal record or a sordid past.

    Simultaneous with Michael Sam, Jr.’s honesty and integrity (by coming out now to save the relentless questions by the media later) Michael Sam, Sr. says he is struggling with his son’s sexuality.

    Well, well well, Mr. Sam. We are sorry you are struggling with it. Because believe it or not, we are also struggling with the fact that at least two family members are incarcerated and WE are the ones – as taxpayers – who are supporting them. Gay people do pay taxes, and taxes support the prison systems.

    Conversely, Jr. is out there making a name, a career and a positive mark for himself and is a role model for today’s troubled youth. You know, the ones like the two who are currently in prison.

    So go ahead and “struggle” Mr. Sam, and hold on to those feelings dearly.

    Enjoy the bigotry while you can, you worthless, hating, despicable excuse for a parent. You were a failure as a father before you even started but the one thing I am thankful for is that in all of the mess in your life, a very bold and brave young man emerged and came out of it.

    Shame to you, Mr. Sam, Sr. Shame for “struggling” with the only positive thing you ever had in your entire life.

    Now, go get your Bible, Mr. Sam, and read it again.

  14. MIke says

    Let me paraphrase for Michael’s dad: “I’m old school; I think that men should pay for sex from poor, abused, pimped and manipulated women”.

  15. Kim says

    GMAFB 1/2 the White Gays I know parents wouldnt piss on them if they were on fire.Im tired of this BS that Blacks are so much more homophobic.This guy dropped out in Junior high school of course he is ignorant.What about all the White college educated people who head EVERY national anti Gay organization.
    For the question why are some Blacks homophobic,tell my are some Gays racist,sexist,homophobic,etc

  16. PDQ says

    The fact that the son told his father he is gay via text message is probably a good indicator of their relationship.

  17. Dback says

    I now officially love Michael Sam–Jr., that is. Anyone who goes through this kind of garbage growing up and soars like a phoenix to where is he now (an openly gay NFL draft pick) is truly a remarkable, remarkable man.

  18. GregV says

    Michael Sam is the perfect role model to come out. He’s articulate, intelligent, driven, educated, extremely well-liked apparently, handsome, sexy, talented, and all in spite of being raised with the odds against him and having to figure out how to BE a role model in spite of all the bad ones around him.
    His story will surely be a movie someday.

  19. jamal49 says

    Don’t get why Mr. Sam would say or think that because of his son Michael’s open declaration of his humanity that it would cause Deacon Jones to be “turning over in his grave”. I doubt if Mr. Sam knew Mr. Jones or even what Mr. Jones might think about Michael Jr.’s sexual orientation. I think it telling that Michael came out to his father via a text message. Not a good sign that they have a relationship built on mutual respect and love. Michael Sr., don’t worry about your son. Michael Jr. is tough enough, believe me. You don’t play in the SEC and you don’t play for Mizzou if you aren’t tough.

  20. says

    this only makes Michael’s story all the more powerful.

    it’s an amazing world we live in where a father will be proud that his son owns guns, or will take his son to mexico to have sex with a prostitute…and yet…they have a problem with…what? the fact that their son *IS GAY*? He’s always been gay. He was gay when you loved him when he was a kid, he was gay when you loved him as a teen, he was gay when you loved him a few weeks ago and *didn’t know he was gay*.

    My dad welcomed my first boyfriend into the family with open arms. invited him to dinner, and sat next to him when he was with my family at my high school graduation.

    who knew my dad was doing it all wrong, and should have instead taken me to a poor country so i could have sex with a woman in the sex trade, eh?

    Michael – you are all the better and bigger man because you overcome a culture of B.S. to live your truth.

    love you, and proud to call you brother.

  21. Stephen says

    So, he irresposibly had 8 kids, then left his wife. He dines at Dennys and drinks at Applebees. He takes his kids to Mexico and exposes them to who knows what diseases, then he has the balls to say he does not want his Grandkids “raised in THAT KIND of environment”. He is is a real fat class act.

  22. Nathan says

    Until the moment after I pass from this planet, I will not understand why we put the lives of trained entertainers ahead of normal people who struggle everyday with lives like this. This story is so common place, let’s see the press making a big deal out of the X number of similar situations with in 15 miles of my house.

  23. Chuck Mielke says

    Though some might interpret this as a racist comment, I mean this in the most charitable possible way: It looks like this Sam family has had more than its share of the difficulties of growing up African-American. My heart goes out to Michael Jr. and his family.

  24. miami says

    Interesting that this is turning into a PR issue from the vitriol on the sports message boards towards Michael JR and in favor of the father.

  25. Rob says

    “As a black man, we have so many hurdles to cross,” he said.

    I’m continually amazed how black many people – who may have experienced much discrimination in their lives – find it acceptable to discriminate agains LGBT people.

    Posted by: Joe in Toronto | Feb 12, 2014 9:31:35 AM ”

    There is no correlation between the 2, just because you have experienced discrimination in the past, it doesn’t automatically make you immune to being a person capable of discriminating. That only exist in the perfect world my friend

    You know how many gay people who discriminate against people of other races. I have seen plenty of that in our own community

  26. Charles says

    Homosexuality isn’t disgusting.

    You know what is disgusting? Paying poor desperate third-world women for sex and teaching your virgin son that it’s okay to treat women like Kleenex.

  27. says

    Serious outreach time PFLAG.

    ‘I’m old school’ No you’re just ignorant.

    Michael has been playing football for years. Now that he has a chance to play professionally his absentee father surfaces to say what … he shouldn’t be allowed to play?

    What an abhorrent pitiful excuse of a father.

    So very sorry that you’ve had to endure this Michael. Those days are behind you. Your extended Family loves you more than ever and will always stand up for you.

    As Mary Renault said in The Persian Boy ‘the sons of dreams not the sons of seed’.

  28. chevytexas says

    I’m wih Kim. While the Sams’ family story is hard to read, it reads a little more realistically than the glowing story put out by self-serving publications and networks. He’ll be fine but pretending it’s rosy for anyone is no service. Many parents deal with this, and your approbation isn’t necessary for them to grow into something their family isn’t today. Was yours?

  29. unokhan says

    only michael sam has the right to trash talk his next of kin, and in all likelihood he has more class than that. if all you trash-talkers want to denigrate someone’s father, go home and start (and end) there.

  30. andrew says

    Michael’s relationship with his father is a deeply personal affair. News media, web sites and posters should keep their noses out of it.

  31. Philip Wester says

    Old fashioned family man who doesn’t want his grand-kids to grow up knowing about gay people… who also took one of his soons to lose his virginity to a Mexican hooker.

  32. DavidinChelseaMA says

    What a classless moron. Way to go, idiot. Make it more difficult for your son to reach his dream with your ignorant comments about gay people in the NFL.

    What a frigging tool.

  33. Ninong says

    Congratulations, Michael Sam, Sr., for having one successfuly son! I guess one out of five is better than nothing, right?

    One son disappeared in 1998 on his way to school and is presumed dead. One son was shot and killed while breaking into someone’s house as part of a gang initiation. Two sons are currently serving time in prison. And then there’s the son he’s “struggling to accept.” That would be the one who graduated from college, was MVP of his college football team and defensive player of the year of the SEC. He’s about to be drafted into the NFL but his father is struggling to accept him because the NFL is a man’s domain and gays don’t belong in the NFL, including this man’s own son. How can any father say something as uncaring and ignorant as that? Oh, that’s right. A FAILURE OF A FATHER.

  34. ThomT says

    Seems that there are far more serious things for Sam Sr. to be concerned with than Jr. announcing that he is gay. It appears as though there were some pretty serious parenting responsibilities that Sr. neglected after fathering 8 children. So far what I know, and have seen, of Michael Sam Jr. he is more of a man than his father ever was or could ever hope to be and I wish him the very best.