Michael Sam to receive Arthur Ashe Courage Award
MAY 07, 2014 10:28a ET
The SEC's Defensive Player of the Year is going to need to more room on his mantel.
Former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam on Wednesday morning was named recipient of the 2014 Arthur Ashe Courage Award, presented to athletes who "transcend sports." The award will be presented July 16 at the 2014 ESPYs in Los Angeles.
Sam came out of the closet publicly in February, becoming the first openly gay NFL Draft prospect. The draft begins Thursday night and runs through Saturday.
Despite the accolades of his senior season, the Hitchcock, Texas, native is projected as a fifth-, sixth- or seventh-round selection, and viewed by many NFL scouts as a "tweener" -- smaller than a typical defensive end, slower and less nimble than most linebackers.
The 6-foot-2, 255-pound Sam recorded 11 1/2 sacks and 19 tackles for loss this past season in helping the Tigers to a 12-2 record, the school's first SEC East division title and a win over Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl.
"This whole process is amazing," Sam told ABC's Robin Roberts during an appearance on "Good Morning America" Wednesday morning. "I'm just glad to be a part of it."
The Ashe award has been presented since 1995. It's named in honor of the late tennis great, who passed away in 1993 after contracting AIDS from a blood transfusion.
"It's a great honor to be presented (with) this award," Sam told Roberts. "I'm so happy. I talked to my family about it; they're happy. It's a great honor. I just feel like, because I came out, was the first one to do it, I think I could be a beacon for other young athletes who may be gay, or maybe not. And I think I can be a beacon for those people -- a light. That 'Hey, I can be comfortable in my own skin, and be like Michael Sam.'"
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