Sam — accompanied by his boyfriend, Vito Cammisano — received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award and gave a speech in which he explained how Ashe's words guided him this year.
Here are the most touching moments from the speech:
"This year I had a lot of experience being part of something a lot bigger than myself. At times I've felt like I've been living in a massive storm, and I know the storm will end. I'm here tonight to tell you that the lessons I learned about love, respect and being true to yourself will never leave me."
"The late, great Arthur Ashe wasn't just courageous. He was brilliant too. He put all the wisdom in the world into three great sentences: Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. Those are words to live by, whether you're black or white, young or old, straight or gay."
"'Use what you have.' What I have is the privilege to play a game I love with all my heart. Football raised me, taught me about hard work, about discipline and about teamwork. Whatever passion or talent you have, follow it. I followed mine, and it got me all the way to this stage here tonight so I can look out and see so many of my heroes looking back at me."
"Finally, Arthur Ashe said, 'Do what you can.' Those have been very meaningful words to me, and the way I see it, my responsibility at this moment in history is to stand up for everybody out there who wants nothing more than to be themselves openly."
"Recently a friend asked me to talk to his sister, a young woman who was considering killing herself rather than sharing with her loved ones the fact that she was gay. When we spoke, she told me she would never consider hurting herself again and that somehow my example had helped her. It's amazing to think that by just doing what we can, we can all touch, change and even save lives."