Prince Harry has key figures on his side amid the outrage over ESPN’s decision to honor him with the Pat Tillman Award for Service. At least two former winners say Harry is absolutely deserving of the award.

Jake Wood, a US Marine and former American football player who won the award in 2018, said… the Duke of Sussex is a natural choice for the Tillman award because of Harry’s military service and his dedication to veterans.

Jake thinks Prince Harry is a good choice because he has dedicated his life to serving and supporting the military and veterans. Harry served two tours in Afghanistan. That deserves a pat on the back, because there are hundreds of different ways a British royal could live his life.

Remember, Pat’s mother, Mary Tillman, caused a stir when she criticized ESPN for its plan to present the award named after her son to “a controversial and divisive figure” at this month’s ESPY Awards ceremony.

Even ESPN personality Pat McAfee has openly supported Mary’s stance, claiming that his network is intentionally trying to create controversy… allegedly for better ratings.

Another previous winner, U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Israel Del Toro Jr., received the Tillman Award in 2017 and strongly disagrees with McAfee and Mary Tillman.

He says Harry’s work with wounded and injured veterans makes him a worthy recipient, and for what it’s worth… he’s looking forward to seeing Harry follow in his footsteps.

That’s also the view of ESPN, which maintains that Harry was specifically chosen because of his work as founder of The Invictus Games for wounded and injured veterans. Harry’s foundation is celebrating 10 years of service.

The idea that ESPN selected Harry purely for publicity is incomprehensible to Jake, who points out that the ESPYs and ESPN could use some celebrity presence, and the ceremony is always filled with famous athletes.

Harry is, of course, the first celebrity to win the Pat Tillman Award for Service. In the past, the award was reserved for unsung heroes, but Jake says Harry’s military background sets him apart from most celebrities.

Jake is defending Harry here, but don’t get me wrong… he’s saying that Pat’s mother has every right to defend her son’s legacy in whatever way she sees fit, and he’s obviously not speaking for the Tillman family.

Israel also has sympathy for Mary, but says the price comes down to serviceā€¦ and for him, Prince Harry certainly more than meets that requirement.