Mother of Slain US War Hero Slams Decision to Honor Prince Harry with Pat Tillman Award

The perplexed mother also noted that Harry is already well-known and has received numerous awards throughout his life.

The mother of American hero and former NFL player Pat Tillman blasted ESPN for choosing to honor Prince Harry with the award named in her son's memory. Mary Tillman said that the sports network never consulted her about awarding the Pat Tillman Award to the Duke of Sussex.

This award honors her late son, an NFL safety-turned-Army Ranger who enlisted after the September 11 terrorist attacks. "I am shocked as to why they would select such a controversial and divisive individual to receive the award," Mary told the Daily Mail. She's blasted the network saying there are others "far more fitting" and with less "privilege" who could win the gong.

Could Have Chosen Another Person

Pat Tillman
Pat Tillman X

"There are recipients that are far more fitting," Mary Tilman added. "There are individuals working in the veteran community that are doing tremendous things to assist veterans."

The perplexed mother also noted that Harry is already well-known and has received numerous awards throughout his life. She argued that ESPN should have selected someone else who has not been in the spotlight.

Prince Harry
Prince Harry in his military uniform Twitter

The Pat Tillman Award is typically given to unsung heroes, such as last year's recipients—the Buffalo Bills training staff who revived Damar Hamlin after he suffered a cardiac arrest during a game.

Mary's criticism was echoed by ESPN analyst Pat McAfee, who on Friday accused his own network of "trying to provoke people" by choosing Prince Harry.

"It's going to Prince Harry," McAfee said on his talk show, "who I don't even think is a Prince anymore, right? He said don't call me that? See, why does the ESPYs do this s–t?

"This is like actually the most embarrassing thing I've seen in my entire life," he added.

Network Blasted

In selecting the Duke of Sussex and others for recognition at the upcoming ESPY Awards (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly), ESPN's VP of Production, Kate Jackson, praised the honorees as individuals who have made a significant impact on the world.

Pat Tillman
Pat Tillman X

"These honorees have used their platforms to change the world and make it more inclusive for marginalized and suffering communities, demonstrating incredible resilience, positivity and perseverance, and we're thrilled to celebrate them at the 2024 ESPYs," Jackson said.

Despite the controversy surrounding his royal life, Harry—who served in the British military for 10 years, including two tours in Afghanistan as a helicopter pilot—has been praised for his role in founding the Invictus Games. Established in 2014, the Games are a multi-sport event, similar to the Paralympics, for wounded or injured servicemen and veterans.

Prince Harry had served in Afghanistan
Prince Harry had served in Afghanistan during his military service Twitter

"This one is for our entire service community," Harry said after learning that he will receive the Pat Tillman Award.

The Pat Tillman Award, founded in 2014, is given to individuals whose service reflects Tillman's legacy.

Tillman, who was a former safety for the Arizona Cardinals, served in Iraq and Afghanistan before being killed by friendly fire in 2004. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart for his service.