Michael Sam Gives Moving Speech at ESPY Awards (WATCH)
By Zach Seemayer
The 2014 ESPY Awards had a score of powerful and moving moments, perhaps none as touching as when Michael Sam accepted the Arthur Ashe Courage Award and delivered the kind of speech you see in movies.
Fighting back tears, Sam stood on-stage and explained what the award meant to him, and to everyone else trying to just live life as who they are.
"This year, I've had a lot of experience being part of something bigger than myself," Sam said holding his award. "At times, I've felt like I've been living in a massive storm, and I know this storm will end. But I'm here tonight to tell you that the lessons I've learned about love, and respect, being true to yourself, will never leave me."
In May 2014, Sam became the first openly gay football player to be drafted into the NFL, breaking barriers for future players and blazing a trail for equality and diversity in the often divisive world of competitive sports in America.
On the red carpet, Yogi Roth, reporting for ET, stopped to talk to a few of Sam's vocal supporters, including Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts and basketball player Jason Collins, and asked them if the stigma of being gay in American sports is still as strong as it was in years past.
Collins, who became the first athlete in any of the four major US sports to come out as gay at the end of the 2013 basketball season, said that things had already advanced between "when I came out a little bit over a year ago to, where we are now in the world of sports."
"Last week with Ian Thorpe, the Olympic swimmer from Australia, coming out. There are more and more professional athletes, active and retired, who are taking that brave step to really let the whole world know who they are," he said.
Roberts, who also recently revealed she was gay when she mentioned her longtime girlfriend Amber Laign in a Facebook post last year, said that she thinks that, in many cases, it's the media that makes a big deal out of people coming out. She thinks that the general population doesn't care and only wants people to be decent.
"[People] just want people to be good. They just want you to live your life and to be good at what you do," Roberts said. "Help people along the way and it doesn't matter who you are, what you look like, or anything like that. So I'm very grateful to have received the kind of support that I have and I know that Michael is too."
As for Sam, he spoke with ET after accepting the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, saying, "I want to do whatever I can to help anyone who doesn't feel like they don't belong… I just want to own my truth, and be true to myself."
Check out the video for more from Sam, Roberts and Collins, and take a look at Sam's inspiring acceptance speech at the 2014 ESPY Awards.