Public Speaking Expert
Sportsman Michael Sams, who came out as an openly gay American football player, has given an emotional speech at the 2014 ESPYs awards where he picked up the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.
Michael Sam will become the first openly gay player in the NFL when the season begins in September and announced that he was gay in February, three months being called up by the St. Louis Rams.
Before being presented with award for courage a film about his life was shown to the audience. Michael Sam then kissed his boyfriend who he was attending the event with and then took to the stage to make a very emotional and heartfelt speech after he received his award from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
He said in his speech: “This year I 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. But I am here tonight to tell you that the lessons I learned about love, respect, being true to yourself will never leave me.”
During the speech, which saw Michael Sam overcome with emotion in several parts, he spoke about how inspiring Arthur Ashe had been and also recounted a story about a woman who he helped after she considered taking her own life because she herself was gay.
He said: “When we spoke, she told me she would never consider hurting herself again, and that somehow my example helped her,” He added: “It’s amazing to think that, by just doing what we can, we can all touch, change and even save lives.”
Arthur Ashe was the first black player to be part of the US Davis Cup team and has been the only black man to ever win a singles title at Wimbledon, the US Open and the Australian Open. He was a passionate campaigner for civil rights and was even arrested on occasion for his protests.
The Arthur Ashe foundation was founded after he announced he had HIV in 1992.
The honour of the award clearly meant a lot to Michael Sam and he concluded his moving speech by saying: “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”