Entertainment, Film and Music
Michael Sam Tells Oprah Heartbreaking Childhood Bullying Story (VIDEO)
Coming out as a gay athlete takes courage — just ask Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted into the NFL. In his first television interview since being cut from the Dallas Cowboys, Sam opens up to Oprah about the painful experiences he endured as a child.
One of eight children, Sam grew up in the small town of Hitchcock, Texas. Of his five brothers, one was killed, and another was declared dead after going missing. Sam says his remaining older brothers were always getting into trouble and known around town as the “damn Sams.”
“They used to abuse me daily,” Sam says in the above video. “Maybe just for fun. Maybe because I was different.”
“They called me a lot of things,” he says. “They called me fag, they called me gay — anything you could think of, just to hurt me.”
Sam threw himself into sports, and in the seventh grade, received his first honors in football, basketball and track. “For the first time in my life, I got a trophy,” he says.
“Validation,” Oprah nods.
“Yes, and my mom was so proud of me and it was the first time any of her kids had achievement that high,” Sam says. “It was most valuable player. And I was so proud of those trophies.”
But his joy quickly was shattered. “My older [brother], he was so jealous and he just broke them in front of me, and it was just the saddest thing,” Sam says. “I couldn’t have anything without them destroying it or taking it from me.”