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Pics/Vid: NFL star JJ Watt launches new shoe honoring Army Ranger Pat Tillman with Reebok

Portrait of the fallen Cpl Patrick Tillman. (U.S. Army photo/Released)
June 01, 2021

Football player JJ Watt teamed up with Rebook to honor the late footballer-turned U.S. Army Ranger Pat Tillman with a new training shoe. Within a day of the shoe’s release, Watt said most sizes of the shoe had already sold out.

The new shoe is the latest in Watt’s JJ IV Valors training shoe series, developed by Reebok. The shoe includes several details honoring Tillman, who left a career in professional football with the Arizona Cardinals NFL team after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and joined the U.S. Army Rangers.

Watt previously played for the Houston and as of March 1, 2021, signed on to play for Tillman’s former NFL team, the Arizona Cardinals. Watt consulted with Pat’s wife Marie Tillman and the Pat Tillman foundation throughout the process to develop the shoe.

“It was a true privilege to work with Marie Tillman and @pattillmanfnd over the last year to design these and make sure we honored Pat Tillman properly,” Watt tweeted on Wednesday. “All of my proceeds will be donated directly to @pattillmanfnd Available tonight at midnight:”

After joining the Army, Tillman deployed once to Iraq in 2003 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and then deployed again in 2004, this time to Afghanistan. On April 22, 2004, during a vehicle-mounted patrol in Afghanistan’s Khost Province, Tillman’s unit was ambushed. During the fighting, Tillman dismounted from his vehicle to take up an advantageous position on a hillside to provide covering fire for his unit. It was during this action that Tillman was fatally fired upon by another soldier in his unit. He was 27 years old at the time.

The new shoe features a number of details honoring Tillman, including PT40 inscriptions in reference to Tillman’s Arizona Cardinals number, a Pat Tillman Foundation sock liner, and a commemorative nametape style hangtag with Tillman’s name on one side and the message “Leadership Through Action” on the reverse side.

The shoe has a retail price of $100.

Between May 27 and August 31, Reebok will donate $10 to the Pat Tillman Foundation for every pair of JJ IV Valors sold. Watt announced all of his proceeds from the shoe sales will also go to the Pat Tillman Foundation.

On Thursday, within hours of the shoe’s official release, Watt tweeted a video message and said “Thank you for your incredible support of the Pat Tillman shoe. It’s a special one.”

In his video message, Watt said the shoe release saw “hands down one of the fastest sellouts we’ve ever had in most of the sizes. You guys are unbelievable. Right at midnight everybody jumped on and purchased them and I just — I can’t thank you enough.”

“We worked extremely hard to try and do right by Pat and try and honor him properly and appropriately,” Watt added. “And just it means the world to see you guys support this so well and see the love and the outpouring of support.”

Previous installations in Watt’s Reebok shoe series have also gone to supporting military and veteran causes. Southern Living reported the JJ III Valor installation was inspired by his grandfather, James Watt, who served in the Korean War. Reebok donated $5 per pair of those shoes to the Honor Flight Network, which provides veterans with transportation to Washington D.C. to visit and reflect at the various veteran memorials. In addition to Reebok’s donations, Watt donated all of his proceeds from that installation in the shoe series to the Honor Flight Network.