Prince Harry Still Accepting Pat Tillman Award at ESPYs

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Prince Harry.
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Despite reports to the contrary, Prince Harry has no plans on turning down the Pat Tillman Award for Service. 

The Duke of Sussex, 39, is set to receive the honor at the ESPY Awards on Thursday, July 11, which recognizes a person with a strong connection to sports who has served others in a way that echoes the late Tillman’s legacy. 

A former NFL star-turned-U.S. Army Ranger, Tillman was killed during combat in Afghanistan in 2004. 

Us Weekly exclusively spoke with the Duke’s press office who shared they have not offered any guidance on this matter. They also advised that anything published thus far regarding the Duke’s feelings or emotions have been purely speculative and without merit.

Harry being bestowed with the honor has kicked up controversy, including some from Tillman’s own mother

“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 in an interview published on June 29. “There are recipients that are far more fitting. There are individuals working in the veteran community that are doing tremendous things to assist veterans.”

She added, “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.”

In the wake of the backlash, ESPN defended their decision to recognize Harry, who is being lauded for his own military service and cofounding The Invictus Games Foundation, which supports wounded, injured, and sick servicemen and women.

Prince Harry Will Still Accept ESPYS' Pat Tillman Award Despite Reports

Pat Tillman #40 of the Phoenix Cardinals.
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

“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,” the network said in a July 1 statement.

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The decision was also supported by former winners of the Pat Tillman Award for Service, which was introduced by the ESPYs in 2014.

Jake Wood, a former Marine and college football player who won the award in 2018, told TMZ Harry is “a natural fit” and “a good choice” for the distinction. Israel Del Toro, a former Air Force master sergeant who was wounded in 2005 while serving in Afghanistan and received the award in 2017, also spoke to TMZ and said Harry was a “worthy recipient.”

The 2024 ESPYs — hosted by Serena Williams, a good friend of Harry’s wife Meghan Markle — air Thursday, July 11 on ABC at 8 p.m. ET.

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