FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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October 8, 2015 – The NFL’s first openly gay player, Michael Sam, will receive an Athlete Ally Action Award, Athlete Ally announces today. Athlete Ally, a nonprofit focused on educating and activating athletes to champion LGBT equality, will also honor basketball legend Grant Hill and tennis champion Dr. Renée Richards at this year’s Athlete Ally Action Awards on October 20, 2015, in New York City.
Michael Sam, a lifelong athlete, earned 1st Team All-American and Co-SEC Defensive Player of the year in 2013 as a defensive end for University of Missouri football. In 2014, he made history by becoming the first openly gay player to ever be drafted to the NFL.
“Michael Sam showed great courage in sharing his story with the world,” said Hudson Taylor, Founder and Executive Director of Athlete Ally. “Michael forever changed professional sports, and reminded us all of the power sports has to change the world. We are proud to be honoring him with an Athlete Ally Action Award this year, in celebration of his pioneering actions in the NFL.”
Grant Hill, who will also be honored, memorably spoke out in a PSA video in partnership with GLSEN, where he encourages young people to consider that “words have consequences, we’re accountable for the things we say, words have meaning.”
Athlete Ally will also honor Dr. Renée Richards, a highly respected tennis champion and highly respected doctor. Her tennis career spans decades, and she successfully changed policies within the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and the United States Open Committee to make both organizations more transgender-inclusive.
The second annual Athlete Ally Action Awards will take place on October 20, 2015, at the 40/40 Club in New York City. More information about the event can be found at ActionAwards.org.
Last year’s Athlete Ally Action Awards honored baseball pioneer Yogi Berra, tennis champion James Blake, the NBA’s first openly gay player Jason Collins, tennis great Martina Navratilova, KPMG, and the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA).
Athlete Ally’s mission is to educate and activate athletic communities to exercise their leadership to champion LGBT equality. Founded in 2011, Athlete Ally has worked with the NBA, WNBA, and MLB on matters of respect and inclusion; led the Principle 6 campaign that convinced the International Olympic Committee to include sexual orientation in the non-discrimination clause of the Olympic Charter; and counts more than 130 college, professional, and Olympic athletes among its dedicated and active Ambassadors. www.athleteally.org