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Jon Stewart Presents Pat Tillman Award to Wounded Warrior Israel Del Toro

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On Wednesday night, Jon Stewart presented the Pat Tillman Award to for Service to U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Israel Del Toro. 

The presentation took place at the the 25th annual ESPY Awards.

"He found a way not just to survive against the odds, but to thrive. He is a study in strength, tenacity, bravery and service," Stewart said. He called Del Toro, who goes by DT, "a damn miracle” and said he was "a solider who has gone through pain and struggling you would not believe just to survive and be here tonight.”

 

The Pat Tillman Award is named for the former NFL player who quit football to join the military after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and later died in Afghanistan from friendly fire.

Former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning hosted the awards show.

In 2005, Del Toro was on a tour in Afghanistan when his Humvee exploded after hitting a mine. More than 80 percent of his body was covered in severe burns and he lost all of his fingers on his left hand. Del Toro went through rehabilitation, and 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."

Upon receiving the award from Stewart, Del Toro said, "I am honored and humbled to receive this award. Receiving this award is still strange for me, I don't see myself as someone special.”

After thanking his teammates, nurses and family for their support, he added, "Thank you for letting this guy who just had a bad day at work feel like someone special tonight."

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