Pat Tillman’s mother ‘shocked’ by Prince Harry getting son’s award

The mother of U.S. soldier and former NFL star Pat Tillman said she was “shocked” to hear Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, would be the recipient of an annual award made in the name of her son, who was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in 2004.

Mary Tillman, the mother of the Pat Tillman, told the Daily Mail she was not consulted on the choice of Harry as the next recipient of the Pat Tillman Award for Service. The award, in honor of the Arizona Cardinals safety-turned-U.S. soldier, is given by ESPN each year to a “person with a strong connection to sports who has served others in a way that echoes the legacy of the former NFL player.”

“I am shocked as to why they would select such a controversial and divisive individual to receive the award,” Tillman told the Daily Mail. “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,” she added.

Harry is slated to be given the award at next month’s ESPY Awards ceremony for his help in founding the Invictus Games. The 39-year-old son of Britain’s King Charles III, who served a decade in the British Armed Forces, co-created the Invictus Games, an international sports competition for wounded veterans and active-duty military personnel, in 2014.

The Invictus Games have “evolved into a globally celebrated and acclaimed organization that celebrates resilience, community, and healing through the power of sport,” ESPN said in a statement.

“This one is for our entire service community,” Harry said of receiving the ESPY award, ABC News reported.

The award was given last year to the Buffalo Bills training staff for their life-saving actions during a January 2023 game when Bills safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest on the field.

The decision for Harry to be this year’s recipient promoted backlash, and a petition calling on ESPN to “rethink” the choice began circulating last week. As of Sunday afternoon, it amassed more than 12,300 signatures.

The EPSY ceremony will be broadcast July 11 at 8 p.m. on ABC and will be hosted by Serena Williams.

Harry, along with his wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, stepped down as full-time working members of the royal family and moved to California in 2020. They later revealed racism played a role in their decision to step back from their senior positions.

The couple’s relationship with much of the British royal family has appeared strained after the release of Harry’s tell-all memoir “Spare.”

The Hill reached out to the Tillman Foundation and ESPN for further comment.

Updated: 9:22 p.m.

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