NEW YORK (AP) — Michael Sam has been selected the winner of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.
The Missouri defensive end, who likely will be drafted by an NFL team this weekend, will receive the award given to individuals who transcend sports at The 2014 ESPYs on July 16.
Sam, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, has announced that he is gay, making him set to become the first openly gay player in the NFL. ESPN is honoring Sam for "his courage and honesty that resonates beyond sports."
"I'm very honored to be presented with the Arthur Ashe award," he said. "It is about courage.
"You know I don't think there is anything courageous I did. I look forward to when we can live life in a world when gays don't have to come out in public."
Sam said he has received support from athletes in all sports, "from football to basketball to softball to soccer, everyone."
"I am thrilled to be living in a time when you can be accepted for how you live."
Sam joins a prestigious list of winners ranging from Jim Valvano, the first recipient in 1995, to Muhammad Ali, Billie Jean King, Cathy Freeman, Nelson Mandela and Pat Summitt.
The award, of course, is named for Ashe, the inspirational tennis star who died in 1993 after contracting AIDS from a blood transfusion. After learning he had the disease, Ashe campaigned to raise awareness about AIDS.