Prince Harry backed by previous Pat Tillman award recipients

Prince Harry deserves the Pat Tillman Award, according to previous recipients.

The award is presented to a person with a strong connection to sports who has served others in a way that echoes the legacy of the former NFL player and U.S. Army Ranger, who died aged 27 in Afghanistan 20 years ago and Harry's recognition has previously been blasted by Tillman's mother Mary Tillman.

The 39-year-old British royal served 10 years in the British Armed Forces, had two tours of duty in Afghanistan and founded the Invictus Games Foundation to support injured, wounded and sick servicemen and women around the world.

And, Jake Wood, a U.S. Marine and former college football player who won the award in 2018, believes Harry is the perfect candidate to receive the award at this year's ESPYs.

He told TMZ that Harry deserves the award "because of his military service and his dedication to veterans".

Previous winner, U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Israel Del Toro Jr. - who received the Tillman award in 2017 - also believes Harry should receive it, citing his work with wounded and injured veterans through the Invictus games.

However, both men have stressed that they do not speak for the Tillman family and said Mary is entitled to her opinion.

Mary previously told the Daily Mail newspaper: "I am shocked as to why they would select such a controversial and divisive individual to receive the award."

She argued that there are "far more fitting" people to receive the award, insisting that others do "tremendous things" for veterans in tougher circumstances to Harry.

She added: “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 recognised.”

ESPN, the network behind the awards, responded to the backlash and voiced its support for Prince Harry, and insisted his work on the Invictus Games Foundation is "worth celebration".