Israel Del Toro honored with Pat Tillman Award for service at ESPYS

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Thursday, July 13, 2017
Israel Del Toro Jr. accepts the Pat Tillman award for service at the ESPYS.
Air Force Master Sgt. Israel Del Toro Jr. accepts the Pat Tillman award for service at the ESPYS.
Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Air Force Sgt. Israel Del Toro received the Pat Tillman Award for Service at the 2017 ESPYS.

In 2005, Del Toro was on a tour in Afghanistan when his Humvee rolled over a buried mine and exploded. More than 80 percent of his body was covered in severe burns and he lost all of his fingers on his left hand. A year later, Del Toro was not only able to breathe and walk on his own, he also took part in a variety of sports. In 2016, he won a gold medal at the Invictus Games, a sport competition meant for wounded servicemen and women.

"First, I'm humbled for even being considered for this prestigious award named after Pat Tillman, a man I admire, but to actually receive this honor is unbelievable," Del Toro said in a statement. "When I heard that Pat Tillman gave up a career in the NFL to serve his country after the 911 attacks, it gave me so much pride to call him a brother in arms. He truly is a shining example of Service Before Self. To Mrs. Tillman and the Pat Tillman Foundation, I give you my pledge that I'll always try to live up to the true meaning of the Pat Tillman Award for Service in everything I do, and to represent his spirit to the best of my ability."

Del Toro still serves in the military as the first 100 percent combatant Air Force technician.

The Pat Tillman Award is named for the former NFL player and U.S. Army Ranger who died in combat in 2004.

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