“I’m old school,” Michael Sam, Sr, said. “I’m a man-and-a-woman type of guy.”
Sam Jr came out publicly as gay on Feb 9, ahead of the NFL draft in May. If he is drafted as expected, he will become the first openly gay (non-retired) NFL player in history.
The Times profile describes Sam’s childhood in a troubled and deeply religious family 40 miles from Houston, Texas. Of his seven siblings, two died, one is missing and presumed dead, and two are now in prison. His relationship with his religious mother remains strained.
“It was very hard growing up in that environment,” Sam told The Times. “My family was very notorious in the town that we lived in. Everyone would say, ‘There goes those damn Sams.’ I didn’t want to paint that ill picture of me. I knew the good in my family. They didn’t know our background and the adversity we had to endure. I wanted to succeed and be a beacon of hope in my family.”
Despite struggling with his son’s sexuality, Sam Sr is supportive of Michael’s efforts to get into the NFL. “As a black man, we have so many hurdles to cross,” he said. “This is just one he has to cross.”