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War Hero Pat Tillman's Mom Rips Into Prince Harry's Selection For Prestigious ESPYs Award

Home / Entertainment / War Hero Pat Tillman's Mom Rips Into Prince Harry's Selection For Prestigious ESPYs Award

By Favour Adegoke on June 30, 2024 at 2:30 PM EDT
Updated on June 30, 2024 at 9:39 PM EDT

The public outcry over Prince Harry being selected as a recipient of this year's Pat Tillman Award for service at the ESPYs continues to intensify.

Pat's mom, Mary Tillman, has now spoken out against ESPN's decision, wondering why such a prestigious honor should go to a "controversial" and "divisive" individual, as she puts it.

It comes after ESPN's Pat McAfee also expressed his disapproval of the selection and questioned whether the organizing committee did its due diligence on other potential recipients before picking Harry.

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Pat Tillman's Mom Slams Prince Harry's Selection For ESPYs Award

Prince Harry arrives at High Court for the final day

The fierce backlash continues to trail the decision to honor Prince Harry with the Pat Tillman Award at this year's ESPYs.

The prestigious prize, set up to honor former football star Pat Tillman, is usually given 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 and US Army Ranger."

Pat notably gave up a lucrative career with the Arizona Cardinals to enlist as an army ranger and served in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he was killed in 2004 by friendly fire.

His mom, Mary, has questioned whether the Duke of Sussex's military service and philanthropic efforts align with the spirit of the award, claiming she was not consulted before he was selected.

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"I am shocked as to why they would select such a controversial and divisive individual to receive the award," she 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," the war hero's mother added.

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Petition For Prince Harry To Be Unselected By ESPN Flies Past 10,000 Signatures

Harry and Meghan attend Day Two of The Invictus GamesThe Duke and Duchess of Sussex watch the Athletics on Day Two of the Invictus Games

Although Harry was selected for his "tireless work in making a positive impact for the veteran community through the power of sport" with his Invictus Games Foundation, a petition has seemingly surfaced demanding that ESPN "rethink awarding the Pat Tillman Award" to the British Royal.

The Change.Org petition, which aims to attain 15,000 signatures, has already received over 10,000.

The person who started the petition claims that Harry has been involved in "controversies that call into question his suitability to receive an honor of this magnitude," adding that giving him the honor "diminishes" the value of the award and "disrespects Tillman's memory."

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Past recipients of the Pat Tillman Award include members of the Buffalo Bills American football team training staff, who won it last year for reviving a dying player on the field, and English footballer Marcus Rashford, who took the prize in 2021 for raising funds to feed schoolchildren during COVID lockdowns.

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Why ESPN Selected Prince Harry For The Prestigious Award

Prince Harry & Meghan Markle smiling and clapping

ESPN highlighted the father-of-two's Invictus Games Foundation, noting that the platform has "transcended borders and impacted lives across every continent" since its inception in 2014.

The honor has been given to several people other than sports stars in the past, including Jake Wood in 2018 and Gretchen Evans in 2022. Famous athletes who've won it include English footballer Marcus Rashford in 2021 and boxer Kim Clavel in 2020.

"It's our privilege to recognize three incredible individuals – Steve Gleason, Dawn Staley, and Prince Harry," said Kate Jackson, VP of Production, ESPN. "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."

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ESPN's Pat McAfee Disapproves Of Prince Harry's Nomination

Prince Harry Duke of Sussex and Meghan Markle Duchess of Sussex attending the Service of Thanksgiving for the Queen, marking the monarch's 70 year Platinum Jubilee, at St Paul’s Cathedral in London. 03 Jun 2022

Pat McAfee recently lent his voice to the public outcry against the award going to Prince Harry. He wondered if the event's organizers properly perused other candidates in the selection process.

Although he acknowledged that he "doesn't know anything" about Harry except for the "South Park episode and what I've learned from the Crown," McAfee claimed that giving him the award is "obviously trying to piss people off," as he wondered why the ESPYs "do this s---."

"When you do something like this, you know the immediate reaction from humans and sports fans and like people with common sense and brains is going to be like 'Hey, don't be putting our f---ing guy with that guy,'" he added.

His castmate on the show, Boston Connor, also called Harry's nomination "probably the most embarrassing thing I've seen in my entire life," before another castmate, TY Schmitt, said the ESPYs awards is just "a gimmick."

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Many People Want Prince Harry To Be Replaced By An American

Prince Harry at Windsor Castle on September 19, 2022 in Windsor, England.

Elsewhere on the show, McAfee pondered the possibility that other American veterans were considered for the honor, a sentiment that other sports fans have shared.

"It's like you couldn't find an active US military member or someone who can't serve anymore because of something they did while serving," Schmitt shared, per the Daily Mail. "There are probably hundreds, if not thousands of people who they could have found who could have benefitted from this award. But instead, let's give it to Prince Harry."

On Change.Org, people shared their reasons why they felt Prince Harry shouldn't be bestowed the honor.

One signatory to the petition said, "I believe that an American should be honored. Gary Sinise! His service to our veterans makes him deserving of this award! Pat Tillman would be proud! Say NO to giving Harry this award!"

Another signatory claimed, "Pat Tillman sacrificed his life for duty and country! Harry walked away from duty and country & spit on his commander-in-chief, country, duty & family on his way out. All for a Hollywood dream! I'm appalled as an American that you would give him this award. It now means nothing!"

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