Michael Sam wants his supporters to know just how much he appreciates them.

Sam, the All-American defensive end from the University of Missouri who made headlines in February by announcing he's gay, wrote a letter to the student body in the local paper thanking them.

If Sam is drafted, he would become the first openly gay player in NFL history, a development that has been met with a lot of controversy.

Check out Sam's  eloquent letter below:

To my fellow University of Missouri students, athletes, faculty, alumni and supporters:

From my first recruiting trip to the University of Missouri, I felt something extraordinary and special — something I didn’t feel anyplace else.

I didn’t have a name for it then; I do now. It’s called family.

And to me that family is defined by unconditional love.

Certainly you cheered my successes, but you also picked me up when I fell.

Maybe most importantly, you gave me a chance to live my truth without judgment, without hesitation and with great discretion and respect.

When I came out last month, I did it with the confidence that my Mizzou “family” would always be there for me.

To put it mildly, the love and acceptance I felt was amazing.

The day after the announcement, my name was spelled out in the stadium; fraternities hung #StandWithSam banners; then when I went to the basketball game to honor the football team’s Cotton Bowl victory, I worked hard not to cry because of the amazing reception.

I have a long journey ahead of me, a lot of hard work and many dreams I want to fulfill.

But I do it with the confidence that my Mizzou family will be there for me every step of the way.

I will continue to work my hardest; I will strive to make you all proud.

And I will be a Tiger forever.

Love,

Michael