1. When he overcame incredible odds to become the first member of his family to graduate college.
During an earlier interview with Outside the Lines on ESPN back in February he discussed a laundry list of childhood tragedies that included witnessing his brother die from a gunshot wound and living in the back seat of his mom’s car for a period of time in high school. Despite his tough upbringing he never made excuses or let it become a crutch.
2. When he was named an unanimous All-American during his senior year.
He was named a first-team All-American by the Walter Camp Football Foundation, Associated Press, Sporting News, the American Football Coaches Association, and the Football Writers Association of America.
3. When he won the 2013 co-Defensive Player of the Year in the toughest conference in college football.
4. When he led the SEC in sacks his senior year.
5. When he was a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Award which is annually given to the best defensive player in college football.
6. When he helped lead Missouri to their first SEC division title in 2013.
Michael Sam was a huge part of the Tigers’ magical season that made their presence felt in only their second season in the mighty SEC.
7. When he forced a fumble against Oklahoma St. to help Missouri seal the victory in the Cotton Bowl.
8. When he addressed his poor 40-yard-dash time from the combine in this inspiring commercial.
9. When he rocked the crap out of this pink polo shirt on draft day.
Proving once and for all only real men wear pink.
11. When he read to these elementary school kids.
13. When he enjoyed a delicious mimosa with his boyfriend.
Anyone who has ever been to a bottomless brunch knows how badass mimosas are.
14. When he learned about wine in Napa.
Knowing how to pick a good wine is one life’s most unrated skills.
15. When he was named the recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.
“The Ashe Award is one of the most prestigious in sports. Recipients reflect the spirit of Arthur Ashe, possessing strength in the face of adversity, courage in the face of peril and the willingness to stand up for their beliefs no matter what the cost. The award is inspired by the life that Ashe lived, using his fame and stature to advocate for human rights, although, at the time, those positions may have been unpopular and were often controversial.”
16. When he stopped to take a picture with this movie theater employee.
17. When he proved his critics wrong time and time again.
In high school, Michael Sam was only a two-star recruit according to Rivals.com spurned by local powerhouse Texas A&M who didn’t off him a scholarship. He went on to become one of the most dominant defensive ends in the country. Going into the NFL draft everyone told Sam he’s too short and too slow to succeed on the NFL level. Now, he’ll have another chance to prove them wrong.