In a cover story for GQ, Michael Sam, the NFL's first openly gay player to be drafted, discusses his difficult childhood.

Sam was cut by the St. Louis Rams before the start of the season and lasted seven weeks on the Cowboys' 10-man practice squad before being let go. He is currently unsigned.

The 24-year-old Sam is among the six celebrities named GQ's Men (and Women) of 2014.

“Only a handful of people really know how I was raised,” Sam said. “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 – can’t live with that.”

His teammates became his family.

“I needed football – it was just something to do, an excuse to not be at home,” Sam explains. “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.”

GQ's annual Men of the Year issue is available on newsstands now in New York and Los Angeles and nationally November 25.