WATCH: Poker champion honors Orlando victims

- Poker pro Ryan Laplante didn’t expect to give a speech on Sunday when he accepted a gold bracelet for winning a major poker tournament in Las Vegas, but the mass shooting changed his mind.

Laplante, 26, took the stage with his fiance Chris Katona and teared up as he spoke.

 “I am so proud to call myself a World Series of Poker Champion. I’m proud to call myself an openly gay man. I encourage all of you to be proud of who you are.”

Laplante was raised in a small town in Minnesota and said that he did not have many role models who were gay growing up. He came out after high school. He said, "I just wanted to be completely open,” and the poker community has always been very accepting.

He felt compelled to speak following the shooting in Orlando which targeted the gay community. He believes that the U.S. has made considerable progress, but we still have a ways to go.

He said that poker, by itself, doesn’t add anything to the world. But when you win a bracelet, you get to have a moment. He takes that responsibility seriously.

Up Next:


Up Next

  • WATCH: Poker champion honors Orlando victims
  • 77-year-old ballerina proves age is just a number
  • 8-year-old girl's love for bugs gets her published in a scientific journal
  • Young futbol fan's reaction to prank is priceless
  • Teen with rare skin condition crowned homecoming queen under moonlight
  • 12-year-old girl saves sister, dad after he has seizure while driving
  • Stranger who lost grandson gives toddler $20 for toys in Target
  • J.J. Watt raises over $37 million for Harvey relief
  • Tim Duncan helps deliver over 170,000 pounds of food to US Virgin Islands
  • How to answer ‘So, tell me about yourself' in your next job interview