Friday, July 18, 2014

Michael Sam Receives the Arthur Ashe Courage Award

Michael Sam, the NFLs first openly gay player, and a St. Louis Ram, received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at last nights ESPYs. I was looking to include some of it in this morning’s I Didn’t Say it … but it was impossible to pick one quote.

So here’s the whole thing, and it’s amazing ….

The Arthur Ashe Courage Award is a big honor. Much bigger than just me. This year I've 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. I'm here tonight to tell you the lessons I learned about love, respect, being true to yourself will never leave me.

"The late, great Arthur Ashe wasn't just courageous. He was brilliant, too. In fact, he once put all the wisdom in the world in three short sentences: 'Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.' Those are words to live by, whether you're black or white, young or old, straight or gay. So let me tell you why these words mean so much to me, like this award does.

First, start where you are. Like a lot of us, I didn't start on top. That only drove me to get somewhere better. I was lucky to have great father figures like Ronnie Purl, my mentor and best friend. And great coaches like Gary Pinkel and Craig Smith, who knew my story and did everything possible to give it a better ending.

Next, use what you have. What I have is the privilege to play a game that I love with all my heart. Football raised me. Football taught me about hard work, about discipline and about teamwork. But whatever passion or talent you have, follow it. I followed mine, and it got me all the way to this stage tonight, so I can look out and see so many of my heroes looking back at me.

Finally, Arthur Ashe said, 'Do what you can.' Those have been very meaningful words to me. The way I see it, my responsibility at this moment in history is to stand up for everybody out there who wants nothing more than to be themselves openly. Recently, a friend asked me to talk to his sister, a young woman who was considering killing herself rather than accepting and sharing with her loved ones the fact that she's gay. When we spoke, she told me she would never consider hurting herself and that somehow my example helped her. It's amazing to think that, by just doing what we can, we can all touch, change and even save lives.

I want to take a moment to just thank some of my friends who have helped me. Cameron Weiss and Joe Barkett, young guys who took a chance on me, just like I took a chance on them. And Ken Sunshine. Ronnie and Candy Purl, who have done so much to help me get here. My entire Mizzou family for all the support you've given me. You will always be home. And to the Rams organiztion -- Stan Kroenke, Les Snead, Fisher and my teammates. To my mother, a single mother who somehow raised eight kids, I love you dearly.

Last but not least, Vito. People tell me that I'm their inspiration. You are my inspiration.

Standing here tonight looking out at all these legends who have already achieved so much is one of the thrills of my life. I promise to spend the rest of my life trying my best to live up to this honor and become the best football player I can.

And finally, 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.

Thank you and God bless.

3 comments:

the dogs' mother said...

:-)
Any mom would be proud to have him for a son.

SEAN (The Jeep Guy) said...

And he didn't the word gay once or coming out. He just was.

Biki Honko said...

Good heavens this is one very, very special person. I'm glad you printed his entire speech. This young man embodies what a true sportsman should be. Bravo!