NFL pioneer Michael Sam received the Upstander Award at the 2015 Time to THRIVE conference in Portland, Oregon -- presented to him by activist Judy Shepard. Sam, the first openly gay NFL draft pick, celebrated the one-year anniversary of his coming out, and the 25-year-old thanked his fiance, Vito Cammisano, for giving him the courage to come out.
Sam also credited football as his "sanctuary" and his teammates as his family, though it took him a while to come to grips with his sexuality. Well, not that long a while.
"I pretty much knew when I go to college maybe I will experiment. I will see if maybe I'm not gay, maybe it's a phase. But you know, after that first time I knew pretty damn sure I didn't like girls."
Despite getting more than his fair share of hate on social media -- and getting cut from the St. Louis Rams last year -- he prefers to respond to hate with love, as he believes that's how one can change the world.
Though his NFL prospects remain up in the air, Sam has no regrets and will continue to fight for LGBT youth. "It's not about money, it's not about the fame, it's about saving lives," he said, wrapping up his speech. "If we can save one life, we're all winners."
Check out Sam's full speech from the Time to THRIVE conference below: