In accepting an honor at this weekend's Time to THRIVE conference in Portland, Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted by the NFL, credited fiance Vito Cammisano with helping him feel comfortable with coming out.

The annual event, organized by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest LGBT rights advocate, attracts hundreds of people who play crucial roles in the lives of LGBT youth. Actress Ellen Page came out during last year's event.

In accepting the group's Upstander Award, Sam credited Cammisano with helping him feel comfortable with being open about his sexuality.

“Vito has been with me for a long time and actually it is because of Vito that I am here tonight to talk to you guys,” Sam said. “He is the only one who made me comfortable to be who I am; to be comfortable in my own skin. And without him, this would never be possible. I owe him everything.”

Sam also said that he only knew he was “different” growing up.

“I didn't know I was gay, I just knew I was different. But I always knew I had football. So, I was like, you know, when I go to college I will experiment. I will see if – maybe, I'm not gay. Maybe, it's a phase. But after that first time, I knew pretty dam sure I was,” Sam said with a laugh. “I knew pretty sure I didn't like girls.” (The video is embedded on this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)