By Luis Petty |Staff Writer|
Michael Sam, an openly gay player in the National Football League Draft was selected by the St. Louis Rams on Saturday, May 10, 2014.
This NFL draft is being considered a point of progress for American football.
Sam is from the small town of Hitchcock, Texas, a town 40 miles southeast of Houston, Texas.
According to The New York Times, in an article by Joe Drape, Steve Elder and Billy Witz, Sam didn’t have an easy childhood.
He grew up with a strong masculine father Michael Sam Sr., who expressed in an interview his negative reaction while celebrating his birthday at a Denny’s to the news of his son’s sexual orientation.
Sam came out publicly on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014.
“I couldn’t eat no more, so I went to Applebee’s to have drinks. I don’t want my grandkids raised in that kind of environment,” stated Sam Sr.
Though Sam Sr. responded negatively to the news, he did explain that he loved his son and had hoped that his son would make it to the NFL.
He explained that it was just another obstacle his son must overcome.
“As a black man, we have so many hurdles to cross. This is just one he has to cross,” stated Sam Sr.
Growing up Sam was the seventh child out of eight and experienced hardships, ridicule and the death of three of his siblings.
His two year old sister drowned before he was born, another was shot at 15 in a suspected gang related initiation, and the third brother has been missing since 1998 and is considered dead by the family.
Sam explained that he wanted to be the beacon for the family, which fueled his desire to succeed.
“My family was very notorious in the town that we lived in. Everyone would say, ‘There goes those damn Sams.’ I didn’t want to paint that ill picture of me. I knew the good in my family.
I wanted to succeed and be a beacon of hope in my family,” stated Sam.
Sam now lives in Missouri and has a complicated relationship with his family. He usually stays with friends when he visits his home town of Hitchcock.
Throughout his time at the University of Missouri, Sam gradually revealed his sexual orientation and was praised and supported by his friends and colleges for his courage to come out.
“He got that big boulder off his back. He could be himself and not always be hiding something from everybody,” stated L’Damian Wahington, a wide receiver and close friend of Sam to The New York Times.
This past Saturday, the NFL’s vice president Mike Kensil announced that the Rams had picked Michael Sam with the 249 pick.
In an article by William C. Rhoden to The New York Times, Kensil explained that he believed Sam is a good player and was a clever choice for the Rams.
“He’s a good player. St. Louis realized he was a good player, and they were smart enough to take him,” said Kensil to The New York Times.
Sam was so overwhelmed when he was told that he was drafted by the Rams that he kissed his boyfriend while being filmed on national television.
This video aroused some controversy for the NFL and for Sam.
In light of the circumstances, Sam continues to be commended by the media and other NFL players.