Although Michael Sam has seen an outpouring of support from friends, teammates and people he doesn't even know after coming out as a gay NFL prospect, there's still one person who struggled with the announcement: Sam's father.
The 24-year-old Sam came out publicly Sunday, granting interviews to ESPN and The New York Times, saying he wanted to take control of his story. After all, he is poised to be the first openly gay football player in the NFL.
But in a separate Times article, 55-year-old Michael Sam, Sr. said he found out about his son's sexual orientation just before most of us did.
Sam Sr. said he found out via a short text message from his son a week ago that read, "Dad, I'm gay." In the article, Sam Sr. described himself as "old school" and a "man-and-a-woman type of guy" who thinks Hall of Fame defensive end Deacon Jones "is turning over in his grave" and the thought of a gay NFL player.
Sam Sr. said he was shocked. But despite his own thoughts about homosexuality, he told NBC he still loves his son and he's proud of him. "A courageous decision. I can imagine how it was to just tell me, especially to tell the world."
Sam Sr. also told NBC he knew his son would be able to handle any criticism or negativity after having a rough childhood in Hitchcock, Texas. Sam's 2-year-old sister drowned before he was born, one brother was shot dead at 16 and another brother went missing four years later.
During the younger Sam's ESPN interview, he said he "endured so much in my past ... Telling the world I'm gay is nothing compared to that."
Sam was a first team All-American and the Southeastern Conference's defensive player of the year last season at Mizzou. The 2014 NFL draft begins in May.