HomeNewsLocalESPN Defends Choice of Prince Harry as Pat Tillman Award Recipient

ESPN Defends Choice of Prince Harry as Pat Tillman Award Recipient

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – ESPN is defending its decision Tuesday to present Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex, with the Pat Tillman Award for Service during the upcoming ESPY Awards in Hollywood, despite Tillman’s mother objecting to the choice.

The award is named in honor of Pat Tillman, a former Arizona Cardinals safety who decided to leave the team and enlist in the Army following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He became a U.S. Army Ranger and was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2004, by what was ultimately determined to be friendly fire.

ESPN announced last week that Prince Harry would receive the Tillman Award, which honors a person with strong ties to sports and who has “served others in a way that echoes the legacy of” Tillman. The network noted Harry’s service with the British Armed Forces and cited his founding of The Invictus Games Foundation, “creating an international platform to support wounded, injured, and sick servicemen and women — both active-duty and veterans — who are navigating both physical and invisible injuries.”

The award recipient is chosen by the network in conjunction with the Pat Tillman Foundation.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Pat Tillman’s mother Mary — who has no official role with the foundation — criticized the selection of Prince Harry.

“I am shocked as to why they would select such a controversial and divisive individual to receive the award,” she said. “There are recipients that are far more fitting. There are individuals working in the veteran community that are doing tremendous things to assist veterans. These individuals do not have the money, resources, connections or privilege that Prince Harry has. I feel that those types of individuals should be recognized.”

Responding to media inquiries Monday, ESPN issued a statement saying, “ESPN, with the support of the Tillman Foundation, is honoring Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, specifically for the work of The Invictus Games Foundation as it celebrates its 10th year promoting healing through the power of sport for military service members and veterans around the world. While we understand not everyone will agree with all honorees selected for any award, The Invictus Games Foundation does incredible work and ESPN believes this is a cause worth celebrating.”

As of Monday afternoon, nearly 38,000 people had signed an online Change.org petition

Past recipients of the Tillman Award include Marcus Rashford, Gretchen Evans and the Buffalo Bills Training Staff who worked to save the life of player Damar Hamlin when he suffered a cardiac arrest on the field.

The ESPY Awards will be presented July 11 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. Serena Williams will host the event.

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