Openly gay NFL hopeful Michael Sam to be honoured with courage award

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Openly gay NFL hopeful Michael Sam who came out earlier this year is to be honoured with an award for courage.

The Arthur Ashe Courage Award will be given to Sam at the 2014 Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Awards (ESPYs) in Los Angeles.

The announcement was made on Wednesday by ESPN, ahead of this week’s NFL draft, during which Sam hopes to become the first openly gay NFL player. If he does not succeed in that, he could become an underrated free agent this autumn.

“The focus and bravery Michael Sam has shown in his life thus far has been nothing short of inspiring and we’re proud to honor him with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at this year’s ESPYS,” Maura Mandt, executive producer for the awards, said in a press release.

As well as publicly coming out as gay, Sam also overcame hardships and family trauma growing up in Texas.

Two of seven of Sam’s siblings died, one disappeared and is yet to return, and another two have been jailed.

The award is given each year to athletes and others whose contributions go further than the sports industry. Past recipients include Nelson Mandela and Muhammad Ali.

The ESPYs will be aired on 16 July on ESPN.