About 40 miles southeast of Houston, there is a small town called Hitchcock, Tex., where Missouri defensive end Michael Sam was raised.
He was the seventh of eight children to JoAnn and Michael Sam. Sam’s childhood was difficult; he was mostly raised by his mother, three of his siblings have passed away, and two of his brothers are currently in prison. He even spent some time with another family that took him in. Yet, despite all those hurdles, the 6-3 260-pound, Sam became the first member of his family to attend, and graduate college.
On Sunday, Sam publicly confirmed what his Missouri teammates and coaches have known since August. “I am an openly, proud gay man,” Sam said.
“I didn’t realize how many people actually knew, and I was afraid that someone would tell or leak something out about me,” Sam said. “I want to own my truth; no one else should tell my story, but me.”
In 2013, Sam finished his senior season with 48 tackles, 11.5 sacks, 19 tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovered and two passes defended. He also took home the 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, and was a first-team all-SEC selection. He was also a first-team All-American selection by Walter Camp and the Sporting News.
Heading into the 2014 NFL Draft, Sam is being projected as a possible second or third round selection, and the fact that he is gay shouldn’t have any impact on his draft status. If Sam is drafted, he would become the first openly gay player in the NFL.
“I’m not afraid to tell the world who I am. I’m Michael Sam: I’m a college graduate, I’m African American, and I’m gay,” Sam said. “I’m comfortable in my skin.”