Pat Tillman's Mother Criticizes ESPN For Awarding Prince Harry In Son's Honor

 July 2, 2024

ESPN's decision to honor Prince Harry with the Pat Tillman Award for Service has ignited a fiery debate, led by Pat Tillman's mother, Mary “Dannie” Tillman, Breitbart noted. 

This year's ESPY Awards has become the center of controversy following ESPN's announcement that Prince Harry will be the recipient of the Pat Tillman Award for Service.

The award, established in 2014, pays tribute to Pat Tillman, who left a lucrative NFL career to serve in the U.S. Army and was tragically killed in Afghanistan. It recognizes individuals who show significant service to their community and the world.

Award Selection Sparks Outrage

Mary Tillman voiced strong opposition to ESPN's choice, questioning the suitability of Prince Harry for an honor linked so closely with her son’s legacy. She highlighted the divisive nature of the selection, calling into question the appropriateness of awarding such a figure.

"I am shocked as to why they would select such a controversial and divisive individual to receive the award. There are recipients that are far more fitting," stated Mary Tillman. She emphasized the need to recognize those who are less privileged yet contribute significantly to veteran affairs.

"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," she added.

Prince Harry’s Military Background

Despite the controversy, Prince Harry's background includes ten years of service in the British Army, with deployments in Afghanistan. This aspect of his biography aligns with the military service that the award commemorates.

Furthermore, Prince Harry founded the Invictus Games in 2014, an international sporting event for wounded, injured, and sick servicemen and women, both serving and veterans. This initiative has been widely recognized for its impact on the veteran community.

Harry's military service and his contributions to veteran affairs through the Invictus Games present a complex backdrop to the criticisms voiced by Mary Tillman.

Pat Tillman: A Legacy of Service

Pat Tillman's decision to leave the NFL and enlist in the Army post-9/11 was driven by a deep sense of duty, which his mother remembers vividly. "He always wanted to try to do the right thing – not that he did the right thing all the time, but he tried – and he defended his friends whenever they were in some kind of trouble," she recalled.

Mary Tillman also reflected on her son's changing perspective towards football after the 9/11 attacks. "I just think it [the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath] trivialized football … and I think he felt like he should do more," she said, highlighting the profound impact these events had on her son.

Pat Tillman’s ultimate sacrifice came when he was killed in Afghanistan by friendly fire, a tragic end to a noble commitment.

Comparing Previous Recipients

Last year, the award was presented to the Bills training staff, who were recognized for their swift life-saving actions during Damar Hamlin's cardiac arrest at a Monday Night Football game. The selection criteria typically emphasize heroism both on and off the field.

This comparison sheds light on the diverse nature of the award's recipients, ranging from athletic staff to high-profile figures like Prince Harry, highlighting the award's broad scope in defining service and heroism.

Mary Tillman's critique focuses on what she perceives as a disparity between the high-profile status of Prince Harry and the more grounded, everyday heroes who have previously been honored.

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