NFL's First Openly Gay Player Michael Sam Makes Emotional Speech About Acceptance At ESPY Awards

Brave star made statement after holding hands with boyfriend on the red carpet

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Michael Sam was undoubtedly the hero of last night's 2014 ESPYs after not only walking the red carpet with his boyfriend, but also bringing the audience to tears with an emotional and inspiring speech when accepting an award for his incredible courage.

The 24-year-old, who has become the first openly gay NFL player in history, was presented with the Arthur Ashe Award for courage by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson during last night's awards ceremony, and what followed will go down as one of the most iconic ESPY moments ever.

Michael Sam walks the red carpet with his boyfriend Vito Cammisano at the 2014 ESPYs (WENN)

Losing his voice several times while trying to fight back tears, Michael told the audience who had given him a standing ovation as he took to the stage: “This year I had a lot of experience being part of something bigger than myself. At times, I felt like I'd been living in a massive storm, ... but the lessons learned — love, respect and being true to yourself — will never leave me.

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Quoting Arthur Ashe, Michael added: “Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can. Those were the words to live by, whether you're black or white, young or old, straight or gay. ... Football raised me, football taught me about hard work.”

Michael continued: “The way I see it, my responsibility at this moment in history is to stand up for everyone out there who wants nothing to be themselves openly. It's amazing to think that by doing what we can, we can all touch, change and even save lives,” before mentioning a young girl who wanted to end her life as she wasn't accepted for being gay.

Michael broke down in tears several times during his acceptance speech for the Arthur Ashe award for courage (YouTube)

The St. Louis Rams player went on to thank his boyfriend Vito Cammisano, stating: “Last but not least, Vito. People tell me that I'm their inspiration. But you are my inspiration.”

Earlier in the evening, Michael had bravely walked the red carpet with Vito, holding hands with each other and proudly posing for photos.

In February, 2014, Michael bravely came out about his sexuality during an interview on ESPN's Outside The Lines, becoming one of the first openly gay college football players, but when he was officially drafted to the NFL several weeks later, he became the first publicly gay player in the league.

Watch Michael Sam's emotional acceptance speech below...

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Drake was the host of this years ESPY Awards ceremony. (Twitter @ESPYS)