ESPN Responds to Prince Harry ESPY Backlash, Pat Tillman's Mom's Concerns

ESPN is standing by their choice to honor Prince Harry with the Pat Tillman Award for Service at the 2024 ESPYS despite backlash from Pat Tillman’s mother, Mary Tillman.

“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,” ESPN told Us Weekly in a statement on Monday, July 1.

The company acknowledged: “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.”

Everything You Need to Know About the 2024 ESPY Awards

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It is once again time for the biggest stars in sports to descend on Los Angeles for the ESPY Awards. The 32nd annual awards show will take place at the Dolby Theatre for the third consecutive year, with everyone from Patrick Mahomes to Caitlin Clark and even Prince Harry up for an award. The ESPYs […]

Last week, Harry, 39, was announced as the recipient of the Pat Tillman Award for Service, which was named in honor of the late NFL star and U.S. Army Ranger. Pat was killed during combat in 2004. The ESPY Award honors the late soldier’s legacy and commends those who have an equally strong connection to sports and service.

ESPN Responds Prince Harry ESPY Award Backlash Pat Tillman Mom Concerns 2
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While Harry served for 10 years in the British Armed Forces — and gives back through his Invictus Games Foundation — some people were surprised by the decision to give him the coveted award at the upcoming Thursday, July 11, ceremony.

Pat’s mom, Mary, expressed concerns over the Duke of Sussex being named the 2024 recipient, telling the Daily Mail on Saturday, June 29, “I am shocked as to why they would select such a controversial and divisive individual to receive the award.”

Prince Harry Through the Years

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Life on his own terms. Prince Harry is unlikely to become the king of England, but he’s carved a unique path as a philanthropist, father and military veteran. King Charles III and Princess Diana welcomed their youngest son in September 1984, two years after the arrival of Prince William. Unlike his older brother — who […]

She continued: “There are recipients that are far more fitting. There are individuals working in the veteran community that are doing tremendous things to assist veterans.”

ESPN Responds Prince Harry ESPY Award Backlash Pat Tillman Mom Concerns 3

Richard Tillman, Pat Tilman, Sr. and Mary Tilman during the 2003 ESPY Awards.
KMazur/WireImage for ESPN

Mary claimed, “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 noted that she was not consulted about who should receive the award that is named after her late son.

ESPN Responds Prince Harry ESPY Award Backlash Pat Tillman Mom Concerns

Prince Harry
Victoria Jones – WPA Pool/Getty Images

Despite some negative feedback, Harry’s team at The Invictus Games — which was created to “celebrate the unconquered human spirit and shine a spotlight on these men and women who served,” per their website — is happy to see their founder be celebrated at the awards show.

Caitlin Clark Leads 2024 ESPY Nominations, More Than Patrick Mahomes, Simone Biles and Others

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Caitlin Clark’s viral basketball success is scoring her major awards recognition. The 22-year-old WNBA rookie leads the pack of 2024 ESPY Awards nominations. Clark is up for three awards at the July 11 awards show, including Best Athlete, Women’s Sports, Best College Athlete, Women’s Sports and Best Record-Breaking Performance for overtaking Pete Maravich’s spot as […]

“Thank you to the @ESPYS for honouring the founding of the #InvictusGames Foundation by Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex and our work to support the rehabilitation of the international wounded, injured or sick service community. #IAMHere #InvictusSpirit 💛🖤,” The Invictus Games wrote via X in June.

ESPN also expressed excitement over the three “incredible individuals” that are being honored at this year’s ESPYS. In addition to Harry, former NFL safety Steve Gleason will receive the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage for his heroic fight against ALS.

ESPN Responds Prince Harry ESPY Award Backlash Pat Tillman Mom Concerns 4

Prince Harry
Matt Cardy/Getty Images

University of South Carolina women’s basketball head coach Dawn Staley is being honored with the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance after achieving the perfect season culminating in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship title.

“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,” Kate Jackson, ESPN’s Vice President of Production, said in a statement last month. “And we’re thrilled to celebrate them at The 2024 ESPYS.”

The 2024 ESPY Awards on ABC Thursday, July 11, at 8 p.m. ET.

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