Black History Month is observed every February to commemorate the important people and momentous events in African-American history. Hotspots honors Black History Month by profiling black LGBT people who have made noteworthy achievements in their personal or professional lives.
Michael Sam made headlines on February 9 when he came out during a telecast of the ESPN program Outside the Lines. He will make history in the upcoming NFL draft, where he most likely will be selected by a team and by extension will become the first openly gay NFL player.
Sam was born on January 7, 1990 in Galveston, Texas. His childhood was unconventional and troubling. He dealt with homelessness at a point, he saw one of his brothers die from a gunshot wound, and two of his brothers are currently serving prison sentences. His parents were separated, and he lived with his mother until high school, which he attended in Hitchcock, Texas. Sam’s mother, a devout Jehovah’s Witness, did not agree with his decision to play football, so he lived with the parents of another teammate. He earned a scholarship to the University of Missouri, becoming the first person in his family to attend college.
While at Missouri, he majored in parks, recreation and tourism, and played the position of defensive end. Sam led the SEC in quarterback sacks and tackles for a loss (the 2013 season). In the 2013 season, which was his final year, he was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press. He was also named a Walter Camp Football Foundation First-Team All-American. He became one of 33 consensus All-Americans in University of Missouri history, and the first defensive end picked from Missouri in 13 years. The 2013 Missouri team went 11-1, rising as high as #5 in the AP Top 25 college football rankings, only losing in overtime against South Carolina.
Sam graduated with a bachelor’s degree in December 2013, and prepared for the 2014 NFL draft. When he came out on February 9, he said that he wanted to control the manner in which he came out, denying tabloids or other press to make a “scandal” out of something that isn’t one; he is out and unashamed and wanted to let the public know. He was congratulated by a number of football greats, such as Shannon Sharpe, formerly of the Denver Broncos; Tiki Barber, formerly of the New York Giants; and DeAngelo Williams, currently of the Carolina Panthers. President and Mrs. Obama as well as Vice-President Biden sent their congratulations to Sam as well.