Michael Sam, who in May was drafted as a defensive end for the NFL's St. Louis Rams, received the 2014 Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs in Los Angeles on Wednesday. The 24-year-old former University of Missouri All-American, who announced he was gay three months before the NFL draft, is the league's first openly gay player.

"This year I had a lot of experience being part of something bigger than myself," Sam said in his acceptance speech. He devoted much of the speech to the lessons he has learned by"being true" to his own identity in a sports environment plagued by homophobia. "To anyone out there--especially young people--feeling like they don't fit in and will never be accepted, please know this: Great things can happen when you have the courage to be yourself," Sam said.