NCAA All-American Football Player, LGBTQ Athlete and Activist
Celebrated University of Missouri football player, Michael Sam made history when he came out as gay ahead of the 2014 NFL draft, making him the first openly-LGBT player to be drafted in any major American sport. Since his announcement, through scrutiny, criticism and unreserved admiration, he has become an icon and pioneer for the LGBT community.
Hailing from a tiny Texas town and the 7th of 8 children, Sam’s childhood came with adversity, challenges and pain. With a portion of his early years spent living in a car with his mother, Sam developed steadfast determination to make a better life for himself, identifying sports as his ticket out. With unrelenting athletic aspirations, he went from water boy to star player, earning first-team All-District honors all four years of high school. Sam secured a football scholarship at Missouri where he thrived, culminating in being named a first-team All-American and Co-SEC Defensive Player of the Year.
Predicted to be drafted early in the 2014 NFL draft, Sam was drafted by the St. Louis Rams as the 249th of 256 players selected. After being released from the NFL, he signed a two-year contract with Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League in 2015,making him the first openly gay player in the league's history. Later that summer, he announced his retirement from football. In recent years, Sam has become a motivational speaker offering firsthand insight into leveraging individual personal strengths to pursue ones dreams, inspiring audiences with perspective on what it means to work hard to define and achieve success.
Sam is recognized as a role model and trailblazer for inclusion in sports, revered for his unswerving courage, graciousness and fortitude. He has received multiple honors, including being named one of GQ Magazine’s Men of the Year, was a finalist for Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year and the recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2014 ESPYs.