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Michael Sam Gay: Missouri Tigers Defensive Lineman Ex-Boyfriend an Athlete, Not Football Player

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By Vanessa Francisco | February 10, 2014 8:48 PM EST

2013 All-American Missouri DE revealed he was gay. Sam said he went to his teammates in summer of 2013, saying he wanted to expose his sexual orientation publicly on his own terms. "I just wanted to make sure I could tell my story how I want to tell it," Sam told the New York Times. Sam told his teammates in a team-building exercise during training camp. Every member of the team was asked to reveal something about themselves that the team did not know. When he did, it appeared that his teammates knew it all along anyway.

Sam said he has never had any problems with his teammates, who knew that he was simply a Missouri football player who just happens to be gay. He also told ESPN that he previously dated a fellow Missouri athlete, but not a football player.

"I knew from a young age that I was attracted to men," Sam said. "I did not know if it was only a phase. I did not want to say, 'Hey, I may be gay. I may be bi.' I just did not know. I wanted to figure out who I was and make sure I was comfortable. I did not tell anyone growing up." Sam was raised in Hitchcock, a small town in Texas. He said his upbringing was full of adversity.

"I endured a lot in the past. I saw my older brother get killed from a gunshot wound, I did not know that my oldest sister died when she was only a baby and that I never got the chance to see her. My second brother was missing in 1998 and my little sister and I were the last to see him. My older brothers have been inside and out of jail since 8th grade. Now both of them are in jail. Telling the world I am gay is nothing compared to that," Sam said.

The NFL has issued a statement on the news, saying: "We admire Michael Sam's honesty and courage. He is a football player. Any player with determination and ability can succeed in the NFL."

Sam added, "I am not afraid to tell the whole world who I am. I am Michael Sam. I am a college graduate. I am African American and I am gay. I am comfortable in my skin."

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