Former Missouri DE Michael Sam, the 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, will receive the 2014 Arthur Ashe Courage Award.
Sam revealed that he was gay in February after Missouri went 12-2 and won the Cotton Bowl and SEC East. He'll be presented with the award on July 16 at the ESPYs in Los Angeles.
"I'm very honored to be presented with the Arthur Ashe award," Sam said (via the AP). "It is about courage."
"You know I don't think there is anything courageous I did. I look forward to when we can live life in a world when gays don't have to come out in public."
When Sam went public, he became the first active major college football player to reveal he was gay and will become the first openly gay NFL player when he plays in the league in 2014. That's why his announcement was so groundbreaking.
When Jason Collins announced he was gay on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 2013, he was a NBA free agent. He signed with the Brooklyn Nets this season, made his season debut in February, and is currently on their playoff roster.
“Arthur always believed in and practiced leading by example,” Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashem Ashe's widow, said in a statement. “When Michael Sam announced that he is gay, he courageously stepped forward to engage an issue that still remains a pervasive problem in many professional sports. Michael has displayed true leadership both on and off the field.”
He's graded as a late-round draft pick and will likely be selected on Saturday, the third day of the NFL draft.
While at Missouri, he told his teammates during a preseason practice in August. After he told them, his teammates embraced him and there were no issues. Sam finished the season with 11.5 sacks and forced the fumble that sealed the Cotton Bowl win over Oklahoma State.
Sam recently turned down offers from ESPN and the NFL Network to have cameras around him during the draft to capture his reaction if he is selected.
The Arthur Ashe Courage Award is named for the former tennis star who died in 1993 after contracting AIDS from a blood transfusion. Before his death, Ashe served as a spokesperson for the disease.
Previous winners of the award include ABC's Robin Roberts, who interviewed Sam about the award Wednesday morning, former Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt, Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali and Jim Valvano, who won the first award in 1993.
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