Prince Harry is set to receive an award from ESPN at the 2024 ESPY awards, but not everyone is happy about it.

ESPN announced on Friday, June 27, that The Duke of Sussex has been selected to receive the Pat Tillman Award for Service — an award given to honor the legacy of former NFL player and U.S. Army Ranger, Pat Tillman.

Following the announcement, Pat Tillman’s mother claimed she was “shocked” Harry had been selected as this year’s recipient, per the Daily Mail.

“I am shocked as to why they would select such a controversial and divisive individual to receive the award,” Mary Tillman told the Daily Mail. “There are recipients that are far more fitting.”

Pat Tillman was drafted to play for the Arizona Cardinals in 1998. But in wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Tillman gave up his NFL career and enlisted in the U.S. Army, per the Pat Tillman Foundation. He died in Afghanistan in 2004 at 27 years old.

Each year, ESPN honors an individual with the Pat Tillman Award for Service. Recipients are selected because they have “a strong connection to sports who has served others in a way that echoes the legacy of,” per ESPN.

Recipients are typically unsung hero types, such as Gretchen Evan, a former U.S. Army Command sergeant major who suffered a life-altering injury during service.

Mary Tillman does not believe Prince Harry fits the profile of a Pat Tillman Award for Service recipient.

“There are individuals working in the veteran community that are doing tremendous things to assist veterans,” she told the Daily Mail. “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.”

ESPN defended its decision to honor Harry with the award for his work with the Invictus Games Foundation as well as his service in the British Armed Forces.

“ESPN, with the support of the Tillman Foundation, is honoring Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, specifically for the work of The Invictus Games Foundation as it celebrates its 10th year promoting healing through the power of sport for military service members and veterans around the world,” an ESPN spokesperson said in a statement, per The New York Times.

“While we understand not everyone will agree with all honorees selected for any award, the Invictus Games Foundation does incredible work, and ESPN believes this is a cause worth celebrating.”

Related
Reveals and reviews from Prince Harry’s new Netflix series, ‘Heart of Invictus’
View Comments

Prince Harry served for 10 years in the British Armed Forces, including two tours in Afghanistan as a helicopter pilot and a forward air controller. He founded the the Invictus Games Foundation in 2014 — an organization that supports and empowers wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women, per the Invictus Games Foundation site.

Upon hearing he would receive a ESPY award, Harry said the award is “for our entire service community,” per People.

When are the 2024 ESPY awards?

The 2024 ESPY award ceremony is on Thursday, July 11.

The 32nd annual award show will air on ABC at 6 p.m. MDT. This year’s host is Serena Williams.

Join the Conversation
Looking for comments?
Find comments in their new home! Click the buttons at the top or within the article to view them — or use the button below for quick access.