By Chancellor Agard
Updated July 17, 2014 at 03:09 PM EDT
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

On Wednesday night, Michael Sam of the St. Louis Rams—who made history earlier this year when he became the first openly gay player to be drafted into the NFL—received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2014 ESPYs. Sam delivered a heartfelt speech about having courage in yourself.

The audience gave Sam a standing ovation as he tearfully made his way to the stage to accept the award from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. He opened his speech by saying, “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, and I know this storm will end. But I’m here tonight to tell you the lessons I learned about love, respect, being true to yourself will never leave me.”

Quoting the late Arthur Ashe, Sam said, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can,” and pointed out that “Those are words to live by, whether you’re black or white, young or old, straight or gay.”

Sam ended his speech by addressing young people out there who feel like they don’t fit in and said, “Please know this: Great things can happen if you have the courage to be yourself.”