If defensive end Michael Sam gets drafted by an NFL team in May, he will become the first currently playing professional football player to identify as gay.
Sam, who was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year for his work with the Missouri Tigers by the Associated Press, recently came out publicly in interviews with both the New York Times and ESPN.
In the sit-down with ESPN, he speaks of the hardships he endured as a child and young man. “Telling the world I’m gay is nothing compared to that,” he admitted. “That,” being multiple family traumas including witnessing the death of his older brother from a gunshot wound and having another brother go missing in 1998 while the other two sit in jail.
The NFL has released a message of support, saying they admire his “honesty and courage.”
“Michael is a football player,” the statement read. “Any player with ability and determination can succeed in the NFL. We look forward to welcoming and supporting Michael Sam in 2014.”
Sam joins recently out pro athletes like Brittney Griner (WNBA), Jason Collins (NBA) and Fallon Fox (MMA).
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