Decision to name Prince Harry the recipient of Pat Tillman award scorched by mom: ‘Controversial and divisive’

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In a matter of days, Prince Harry will be presented with an award named in honor of a fallen soldier and promising NFL player. 

If you’re confused, you’re not alone.

On Thursday, ESPN announced that the royal would be this year’s recipient of the esteemed Pat Tillman Award for Service at the 2024 ESPY Awards, a decision that Tillman’s own mother finds stunning.


“I am shocked as to why they would select such a controversial and divisive individual to receive the award,” Mary “Dannie” Tillman told The DailyMail. “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 said.

Mary Tillman in court looks serious as she looks at someone speaking


Harry, who served in the British Army for ten years, is being recognized for his work with the Invictus Games, an international sporting event for wounded servicemen and women. He launched the international event in 2014, one year before stepping down from active duty.

Prince Harry smiles in a black cap and camo military gear

The upcoming Invictus Games are taking place in Düsseldorf, Germany in July.

Upon learning he’d be receiving the award, the Duke of Sussex said, “This one is for our entire service community,” per People magazine. He’ll accept the honor in Hollywood next month.

Prince William wearing sunglases leans down to shake the hand of a girl in a wheelchair in Nigeria

Recent recipients include the Buffalo Bills Training Staff (2023), Retired US Army Command Sergeant Major, Gretchen Evans (2022), professional footballer Marcus Rashford (2021) and professional boxer, Kim Clavel (2020).

The award was established in 2014, ten years after Tillman, a former Arizona Cardinal, died in combat in Afghanistan due to friendly fire. He famously turned down a multi-year contract and upwards of 3 million dollars to enlist in the Army after the terrorist attacks on September 11.

Pat Tillman in a white t-shirt walks before an Arizona Cardinals game
Pat Tillman walks next to Captain Christopher Deale in Army gear

“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,” his mother recently told ESPN. “I just think it [the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath] trivialized football … and I think he felt like he should do more.”

Mary isn’t the only person who has voiced her disdain for ESPN’s choice. Popular sports analyst, Pat McAffe, ripped the decision on his own show, saying, “When you do something like this, you know the immediate reaction from humans and from sports fans and like people with like just common sense in brains.”

McAffe suggested that the decision to name Prince Harry was “trying to piss people off.”

A representative for Prince Harry and ESPN did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.

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