“We’re proud to honour Josh Sweeney with the first annual Pat Tillman Award for Service, which pays tribute to the lasting legacy of selflessness, leadership and sacrifice that Pat represented."
Josh Sweeney, ice sledge hockey gold medal winner at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, is to receive the Pat Tillman Award for Service.
This is an honour created by ESPN and the Pat Tillman Foundation that will be presented at The 2014 ESPYS on 16 July in Los Angeles, USA.
When hearing that he was to receive the award, Sweeney said to USA Hockey: "Growing up in Phoenix, I was very familiar with Pat Tillman and what he stood for; I aspired to be like him.
"Receiving this award is truly an honour. I look forward to being a part of The 2014 ESPYS and assisting the Pat Tillman Foundation in its efforts to benefit veterans."
Sweeney scored the gold-medal winning goal in Team USA's 1-0 triumph over Russia at Sochi 2014. As a result, the US became the first nation to win back-to-back Paralympic gold medals in ice sledge hockey.
A sniper in the US Marine Corps, Sweeney was on patrol in Afghanistan in October 2009 when he stepped on an improvised explosive device. He received a Purple Heart for his service.
An able-bodied hockey player in high school, Sweeney was drawn to sled hockey during his rehabilitation in San Antonio, Texas. He was less than two years removed from his injuries when he began his career with the US National Sled Hockey Team in 2011-12.
Connor Schell, vice president, ESPN Films and Original Entertainment, who oversees the ESPYS, expressed his delight in presenting Sweeney with the award.
He said: “We’re proud to honour Josh Sweeney with the first annual Pat Tillman Award for Service, which pays tribute to the lasting legacy of selflessness, leadership and sacrifice that Pat represented, and we look forward to this new tradition at the ESPYS.”
Ten years after his death, the Pat Tillman Award for Service was created to honour former NFL player and U.S. Army Ranger Pat Tillman. The annual award honours an individual with a strong connection to sports that has served others in a way that echoes the Tillman legacy.
Tillman placed his NFL career on hold to enlist in the US Army. He served tours in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, as well as in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom in 2004. On the evening of April 22, 2004, Tillman’s unit was ambushed as it travelled through eastern Afghanistan leading to his tragic death.
Founded in 2004, the Pat Tillman Foundation invests in military veterans and their spouses through educational scholarships – building a diverse community of leaders committed to service to others.
The 2014 ESPYS will be televised live 16 July at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN.