Michael Sam, the NFL’s only openly gay player, recently spoke to GQ about his childhood, including his relationship with his brothers, who he calls “evil.”
Sam has spoken publicly about his tough childhood before, but never to this extent, reports USA Today.
“Only a handful of people really know how I was raised. Certain family members weren’t…there. They were ghosts. My brothers were the ones who were there. Most of the time that was scary. I tried to stay away as much as possible. We called the cops on my brothers so many times I can’t even count. Not only for hurting me. They’d abuse my sisters. Verbally abuse my mom. My brothers were evil people. I don’t have a relationship with them now. They’ve both written me letters from prison. For them to dare to call themselves my brothers—I can’t live with that,” Sam told GQ.
Sam went on to say that playing football was his escape from the darkness of his home life.
“I needed football—it was just something to do, an excuse to not be at home. When I played in junior high and high school, it was a hobby. I was just trying to get away from something. That was the only reason I did it. Being with the guys on the team at Hitchcock was my real family. Mizzou was my real family. I loved it. Football was a sense of home. A home I never had,” Sam explained.
Sam’s father, Michael Sam Sr., did an interview with BuzzFeed Sports earlier this month, and said that he has no contact with his son, not even when he was playing for the Cowboys in his home state of Texas.
Sam revealed that he was gay to his teammates while playing at the University of Missouri. He was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He was cut after the preseason, but then picked up by the Dallas Cowboys. He has since been released from the Cowboys practice squad.
GQ named Sam one of its 2014 Men of the Year. The magazine says that Sam did not envision himself as a activist or icon.
“He is a a football player who happens to be gay, not Gay Football Player Michael Sam,” the magazine wrote.
Sam opened up publicly about being gay back in February. He survived his painful and challenging childhood to become one of the most influential sports stars.