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Michael Sam inspires with emotional ESPYs speech

Published On: Aug 06 2014 09:48:17 AM CDT
Updated On: Jul 17 2014 09:46:36 AM CDT
Michael Sam smiling

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Sam, the NFL's first openly-gay player, moved many at the ESPYs to tears in accepting the Arthur Ashe Courage Award on Wednesday night.

"Great things can happen when you have the courage to be yourself," an emotional Sam told the crowd at LA's Nokia Theater.

The former University of Missouri defensive lineman decided to come out shortly before the NFL draft.

He was selected in the final round by the St. Louis Rams.

In his speech, Sam quoted Ashe -- "Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can" -- and noted, "Those were the words to live by, whether you're black or white, young or old, straight or gay. ... Football raised me, football taught me about hard work."

He closed by telling an emotional story of a girl who was contemplating suicide rather than coming out to her parents.

"When we spoke, she told me she would never consider hurting herself again, and that somehow my example helped her," Sam said. "It's amazing to think that, by just doing what we can, we can all touch, change and even save lives."

Watch the video of Sam's speech below or by clicking here: