Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam — a USA TODAY All-America pick last season — revealed that he is gay in multiple interviews today.
“I just want to make sure I could tell my story the way I want to tell it,” Sam told the New York Times. “I just want to own my truth.”
It’s been no mystery to his teammates, he said.
Missouri finished 12-2 and won the Cotton Bowl this season. Sam, 24, was among the top pass rushers in the Southeastern Conference — arguably the most competitive conference in college football — last year with 10.5 sacks. He was a first-team all-American, Missouri’s most valuable player and was the SEC’s defensive player of the year.
In a statement Sunday night, the NFL said: “We admire Michael Sam’s honesty and courage. Michael is a football player. Any player with ability and determination can succeed in the N.F.L. We look forward to welcoming and supporting Michael Sam in 2014.”
Sam comes from a rough family background — his older brother was shot to death, a second went missing and two others are in jail. “Telling the world I’m gay is nothing compared to that,” he told ESPN. “I could have been dead. … I didn’t want to follow the path of my brothers.”
Watch the ESPN interview with Sam below.