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Michael Sam Delivers Emotional Speech After Receiving Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs: VIDEO

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St. Louis Rams player Michael Sam received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award last night at the ESPYs and delivered an emotional acceptance speech, his voice breaking several times, as he spoke about what the award meant to him.

Said Sam, in part:

The way I see it, my responsibility at this moment in history is to stand up for everybody out there who wants nothing more than to be themselves openly. Recently, a friend asked me to talk to his sister, a young woman who was considering killing herself rather than accepting and sharing with her loved ones the fact that she's gay. When we spoke, she told me she would never consider hurting herself and that somehow my example helped her. It's amazing to think that, by just doing what we can, we can all touch, change and even save lives.

Watch and read the transcript, AFTER THE JUMP...

Cammisano

Transcript:

"The Arthur Ashe Courage Award is a big honor. Much bigger than just me. This year I've had a lot of experience being part of something bigger than myself. At times, I've felt like I've been living in a massive storm, without knowing when the storm will end. I'm here tonight to tell you the lessons I learned about love, respect, being true to yourself will never leave me.

"The late, great Arthur Ashe wasn't just courageous. He was brilliant, too. In fact, he once put all the wisdom in the world in three short sentences: 'Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.' Those are words to live by, whether you're black or white, young or old, straight or gay. So let me tell you why these words mean so much to me, like this award does.

"First, start where you are. Like a lot of us, I didn't start on top. That only drove me to get somewhere better. I was lucky to have great father figures like Ronnie Purl, my mentor and best friend. And great coaches like Gary Pinkel and (Hitchcock's) Craig Smith, who knew my story and did everything possible to give it a better ending.

"Next, use what you have. What I have is the privilege to play a game that I love with all my heart. Football raised me. Football taught me about hard work, about discipline and about teamwork. But whatever passion or talent you have, follow it. I followed mine, and it got me all the way to this stage tonight, so I can look out and see so many of my heroes looking back at me.

"Finally, Arthur Ashe said, 'Do what you can.' Those have been very meaningful words to me. The way I see it, my responsibility at this moment in history is to stand up for everybody out there who wants nothing more than to be themselves openly. Recently, a friend asked me to talk to his sister, a young woman who was considering killing herself rather than accepting and sharing with her loved ones the fact that she's gay. When we spoke, she told me she would never consider hurting herself and that somehow my example helped her. It's amazing to think that, by just doing what we can, we can all touch, change and even save lives.

"I want to take a moment to just thank some of my friends who have helped me. (Agents) Cameron Weiss and Joe Barkett, young guys who took a chance on me, just like I took a chance on them. And (public relations consultant) Ken Sunshine. Ronnie and Candy Purl, who have done so much to help me get here. My entire Mizzou family for all the support you've given me. You will always be home. And to the Rams organiztion -- (owner) Stan Kroenke, (general manager) Les Snead, (head coach Jeff) Fisher and my teammates. To my mother (JoAnn Sam), a single mother who somehow raised eight kids, I love you dearly.

"Last but not least, (boyfriend and former Missouri swimmer) Vito (Cammisano). People tell me that I'm their inspiration. You are my inspiration.

"Standing here tonight looking out at all these legends who have already achieved so much is one of the thrills of my life. I promise to spend the rest of my life trying my best to live up to this honor and become the best football player I can.

"And finally, to anyone out there -- especially young people -- feeling like they don't fit in and will never be accepted, please know this: great things can happen when you have the courage to be yourself.

"Thank you and God bless."

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Comments

  1. Good beautiful and emotional speech. He is finding his voice and is using it well.

    Posted by: Matt27 | Jul 17, 2014 9:08:38 AM


  2. Ok she really has to stop crying. She's getting as bad as Lady Bird Boehner.

    Posted by: Truther | Jul 17, 2014 9:09:58 AM


  3. One thing I have loved from the beginning with this man is his humility.

    Posted by: Jere | Jul 17, 2014 9:13:27 AM


  4. Wow. So awesome. He is a wonderful inspiration to us all and a fine example of what it means to be gay and proud.

    Posted by: Cary Chauvet | Jul 17, 2014 9:22:15 AM


  5. I would rather see Michael Sam accepting sports awards before humanitarian awards. He's being manipulated by the gay community.

    Posted by: petey | Jul 17, 2014 9:26:41 AM


  6. stop. crying.

    Posted by: jake | Jul 17, 2014 9:32:16 AM


  7. Glad there's an award for courage and that this decent man won it. Shocking America as he has and, in effect, facing down all the unreported booing he has in sports bars throughout the country (you can be sure there's been a lot) takes a titanic heart. I heart him.

    Posted by: UFFDA | Jul 17, 2014 9:39:11 AM


  8. I adore this man...and let him cry as much as he wants you mean old bullies.....

    He's as tough as they come and has done some pretty legendary stuff in his life which im sure bears some emotional stirring !

    Lets save our negative energy for our enemies.

    Posted by: mike | Jul 17, 2014 9:57:29 AM


  9. Watch out for people who cry (male or female). If you make them cry, sometimes, they'll then proceed to beat the sh1t out of you.

    That's what Louie Armstrong said about Lady Day.

    Michael Sam maybe emotional, but he isn't weak.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jul 17, 2014 10:08:42 AM


  10. I love him !

    Posted by: Michael | Jul 17, 2014 10:16:23 AM


  11. Jesus also cried, at least according to some Gospels. Is Jesus a "sissy"? It must be a fact since Mike Huckleberry also confirmed that "Jesus wept".

    Posted by: simon | Jul 17, 2014 10:31:54 AM


  12. It's a pity you couldn't show the 10 minute video that explained his horrible, horrible life and a great quote from his coach about how low he was drafted and how it upset him.

    Poor guy. Cry, cry, CRY away man you could've been dead like your brothers other in prison like your other brothers.

    Not sure why he loves his Mum so much? She was never there for him.....

    Derrick, some is not even emotional. These instances are the first time he has ever really been human. Poor kid. But I agree w you though.

    Posted by: Rowan | Jul 17, 2014 10:35:00 AM


  13. I think that Michael is great. I think it took a lot of courage for him to come out.

    Can we please now let him join his team, be a football player, and just be another team mate?

    Let him play, and prove, that being gay is MEANINGLESS to his ability on the field and as a team mate. That we can be just like everyone else. That being gay should be no more controversial than being left handed.

    I'm not trying to demean Michael or anyone else--I'd just like us to get to the point that being gay is "no big deal".

    Posted by: cminca | Jul 17, 2014 10:47:36 AM


  14. Lucky Vito.

    Posted by: Agasga | Jul 17, 2014 11:00:09 AM


  15. @ Rowan,

    agreed.

    I was talking about tears that turn into fierce anger (maybe needed on the football field). You were talking about tears that come when one thinks about overcoming great adversity.

    There's a song sung in Black American churches that says, "How I Got Over...how did I make over after all these years. You know, my soul looks back and wonder...how did I make it over?"

    Maybe Mr Sam was feeling something like that.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jul 17, 2014 11:17:36 AM


  16. Men should not have to live in emotional straitjackets. And one sometimes cannot control the urge to cry. Straight men--including athletes--will often experience that when in front of audiences,,,,and it is understood by most people.

    THAT SAID, and although it may be unfair, for the first openly gay player to be drafted by an NFL team to repeatedly break into tears at an event like this--not just once, but several times--and for him to have done so in other instances......is going to tend to reinforce stereotypes about gay men as being weak and "woman-like" and will give ammunitiion to those who are hoping that he fails.

    He therefore needs to learn to control himself somewhat--he is supposed to be a role model and, as a pioneer, he has a great reponsibility to bear to other gay men that may follow in his path....but will find it difficult to do so if he muddies that path along the way.

    It is OK for men to cry, but not excessively.

    Posted by: Rick | Jul 17, 2014 11:18:40 AM


  17. To the bitter queens who only want to see the negative or tell Mr. Sam to stop crying- perhaps you should just stop bitching. What miserable lives you must lead. It must suck to be you.

    Posted by: P Stone | Jul 17, 2014 11:22:50 AM


  18. Rick:
    Is that "excessive" if your beloved book told you that Jesus breaks down completely, falling to the ground on his face and prays three times to take away the cup of suffering from him.....

    Posted by: simon | Jul 17, 2014 11:26:02 AM


  19. How many of us would have loved to have had an example and role model like this when we were in grade school? Kids today who are gay should be grateful that they are living in a vastly changed new world thanks to the courage and integrity of people like Michael Sam.

    Posted by: Kieran | Jul 17, 2014 11:29:54 AM


  20. Fun fact: Rick, Petey and Jake are all the same person. He hates effeminacy, other LGBT people and expressing emotion because he's a sociopath and deeply closeted.

    Unlike Michael Sam, who is much braver than our cowardly troll and a much better human being.

    Posted by: Tyler | Jul 17, 2014 11:32:27 AM


  21. @ RICK,

    for a change (and I mean a big change) your first paragraph made sense--well spoken, even.

    But once you started off the second paragraph with "THAT SAID..." that was my cue to get the hell away from the rest of your comment.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jul 17, 2014 11:34:25 AM


  22. @P Stone: You WIN Towleroad Comments today!! Thank you for saying what I wanted to say!

    Posted by: Dellbert | Jul 17, 2014 11:34:55 AM


  23. Good grief, Rick must be giving himself whiplash trying to reconcile Michael Sam's simultaneous display of brawny and emotional behaviors.

    Posted by: crispy | Jul 17, 2014 11:37:32 AM


  24. Crispy, I think you mean carpal tunnel ;)

    Posted by: Tyler | Jul 17, 2014 11:44:05 AM


  25. I ♥ him and I'm proud of him .
    Congrats on the award, well deserved.

    Posted by: 1♥ | Jul 17, 2014 12:12:44 PM


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