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Meet NCAA's First Out Football Scholarship Player

My-King Johnson

My-King Johnson just made gay sports history.

My-King Johnson has signed with the University of Arizona Wildcats, making him the first openly gay football scholarship player.

The Arizona Daily Star reports that the 17-year-old sports star, who stands at 6'4" and weighs 225 pounds, is a senior defensive end at Tempe High School.

Johnson came out to his family when he was 12. He was nervous when he told his mother, Nadette Lewis, in a grocery story, but her response was accepting.

"I love you for who you are as a person," Lewis told him. "Sexuality? It doesn't matter. ... That's how I teach my children. Love who you are no matter what you are, or what you look like. You have to love yourself. If you love yourself first, then everybody else will respect that and have no choice but to love you."

Vince Amey, an assistant coach at the University of Arizona, had a similiar reaction when Johnson discussed his sexual orientation in a recruitment meeting. "We want you to be a Wildcat," he said.

Johnson, who is breaking new ground in college football, acknowledged that being out might pose some difficulties going forward.

"I do feel like when I say that, it can put a target on my back," he said. "But whatever."

In high school, Johnson was out to his teammates and coach. They were supportive of him, a reality that Outsports founder Cyd Zeigler said pushes back against stereotypes about male athletes.

"Unfortunately, we continue to talk about it in sports as if gay athletes should be afraid. We perpetuate that fear," he said. "The reality is, when LGBT athletes come out, it is the rare exception that it is not accepted by their teammates. So his experience, whether he came out at 12 or 20, it's going to be pretty much the same thing."

"I'm extremely grateful and thankful for the opportunity that has been given to me," Johnson wrote on Instagram. "This recruiting season has been wild and hectic and I'm just happy its finally over."

In 2015, Mason Darrow, an offensive lineman at Princeton University, came out, becoming the only openly gay player in college football that season. Michael Sam came out publicaly in a 2014 interview with The New York Times -- he was a defensive lineman for the University of Missouri at the time.

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