Congratulations are in order for Byron Perkins. The Hampton University football player will be entering the 2024 NFL.
On Dec. 22, the Perkins took to Instagram to announce the exciting news and to thank fans for all of their “love and support.”
“All of your advice, mentorship, and love has truly helped the young man that I am today,” the athlete — who reportedly became the first football player at an HBCU to come out publicly as gay in 2022 — penned.
“Secondly, I would like to thank the fans who have supported me up to this point. I am blessed to have been able to inspire others on and off the field while playing the game that I hold dear to my heart,” he continued.
“Since I was a child. Not just an elite player but an elite person. I pride myself on growth and development. All of my previous endeavors to fully maximize my potential as a leader, student, and athlete have led me to this decision.”
The Hampton University defensive back added that he was excited to be entering the 2024 NFL Draft and taking his talents to “the next level.”
“Thank you all again for your support on my journey. Let’s go be great!” the star beamed.
Byron Perkins’ historic move comes just one year after he came out publicly via his Instagram Story.
“I’ve decided that I’m going to make a change, and stop running away from myself. I’m gay, let it be known that this is not a ‘decision’ or a ‘choice.’ Yes, this is who I am, this is who I’ve been, and this is who I’m going to be. Simply put, I am who I am,” Perkins wrote in October 2022, according to The Root.
During an interview with Out Sports, the football star said it was important for him to show other young gay Black man that they could stand firm in their identity without scrutiny.
“Especially at an HBCU, young Black gay men need an outlet. They need a support system. There hasn’t been an out gay football athlete at an HBCU,” he added. “I want to end the stigma of what people think. I want people to know they can be themselves. It’s about that kid who’s going to see this and think he can be himself too.”
Before transferring to Hampton University, Byron Perkins played at Purdue. The Chicago native came to Purdue as a three-star recruit from De La Salle Institute, where he played offense, defense and special teams, according to Gaye Magazine.
Perkins is the third openly gay player to enter the draft. Scott Frantz, an offensive tackle from Kansas State University, entered in 2020 but did not land a team. Michael Sam was selected to play for The St. Louis Rams after he entered the 2014 NFL Draft. The defensive lineman went on to play for the Dallas Cowboys before retiring from the NFL in 2015.
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