Michael Sam Sr. watched his son receive the Arthur Ashe Courage Award during the ESPYs on Wednesday night, yet by the time Michael Sam Jr. finished his emotional speech, the elder Sam was one of the few who were left in tears.

“It hurt me to hear him say some of the things he said,” Sam Sr. said Thursday afternoon. 

Listening to his son, who became the first openly gay player in National Football League history, talk about how he overcame a broken home while he grew up in Hitchcock, left the elder Sam upset, especially when his son said his father abandoned his family.

“I wasn’t lucky to have great father figures like Ronnie Pearl, my mentor and best friend,” said Sam, words that hammered the heart of his biological father.

“I know I didn’t abandon my kids,” said a very upset Sam Sr. “I was very surprised he would say that. That’s a lot of (expletive). It’s still a bit much for me to digest, but right now, I have no choice but to just let him have his way.”

Sam Sr. said he has not talked with his son since he was drafted on May 10, but has tried to make contact, including a phone call Thursday morning. Sam Sr. said he has yet to receive a response.

The relationship between father and son appeared to have been making progress since Sam Jr. came out in February, yet Sam Sr. feels outside forces have hindered the possibility of mending fences.

“Of course, there are people that are influencing him,” Sam Sr. said. “It is what it is, and I can’t do anything about it. He just needs to know that at the end of it all, his family is always going to be with him.”

Despite his hurt, Sam Sr. said he still loves his son unconditionally.

“I really wish him the best in all that he does,” he said. “I’ll still plan on watching him play every week. More than anything else, though, I am hoping that we can someday talk face to face and talk things out.”

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