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Missouri's Michael Sam wins Arthur Ashe Courage Award

Former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam has been selected as the winner of the 2014 Arthur Ashe Courage Award.

The honor, which will be presented to Sam at the ESPYs in July, goes to an individual who transcends sports. ESPN said he is being honored for "his courage and honesty that resonates beyond sports."

Sam, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2013, is set to become the first openly gay player in the NFL. He publicly announced he's gay in February and is considered a potential third-day (Rounds 4-7) draft pick in this weekend's draft.

"I'm very honored to be presented with the Arthur Ashe award," Sam said, per The Associated Press. "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."

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Sam also said he is "thrilled to be living in a time when you can be accepted for how you live."

"Arthur always believed in and practiced leading by example," said Ashe's widow, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe,. "When Michael Sam announced that he is gay, he courageously stepped forward to engage an issue that still remains a pervasive problem in many professional sports. Michael has displayed true leadership both on and off the field."

Among the previous recipients: Muhammad Ali, Dean Smith, Billie Jean King and Pat Tillman. Jim Valvano was the first recipient, in 1995.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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