NFL Selects Four Pat Tillman Foundation Scholars to Serve as Honorary Captains for Super Bowl LVII

Press Releases, News, Blog | 01/27/2023

Four Pat Tillman Foundation (PTF) Tillman Scholars, each making an impact in their respective industries, will represent the enduring legacy of service that Pat Tillman left behind and serve as the honorary coin toss captains at Super Bowl LVII on Sunday, Feb. 12 at State Farm Stadium, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced today.

The four Honorary Captains –military spouse and Ed.D. candidate Fabersha Flynt, U.S. Army veteran and filmmaker Robert Ham, U.S. Army reservist and developmental psychologist HyeJung Park, Ph.D., and U.S. Air Force veteran and physician technologist Dave Prakash – will participate in the official on-field Coin Toss ceremony. All four Tillman Scholars were selected for their dedication and vision to creating a better tomorrow, as well as the sacrifices they made for our nation. These four scholars carry on the legacy and impact of Pat Tillman and have played a part in growing the influence the Pat Tillman Foundation has made.

Pat Tillman was an Arizona State University football standout who was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the 7th round of the 1998 NFL Draft as the 226thdraft pick. He was the team’s starting safety and broke the franchise record for tackles in 2000 with 224. Tillman was as well known for his leadership off the field as on the field, engaging his friends and family with curiosity and embracing a life of service beyond self.

In 2002, inspired by the September 11th attacks, Tillman placed his NFL career on hold to enlist in the U.S. Army for a three-year term. He tragically lost his life on April 22, 2004, in Afghanistan. Marie Tillman Shenton, with other friends and family, started the Pat Tillman Foundation to carry forward his legacy by giving military service members, veterans and spouses who embody Tillman’s values educational support, leadership development, and a supportive community of mentors and peers to help them grow into the next generation of leaders, no matter how they choose to serve.

The Pat Tillman Foundation is one of the NFL’s Salute to Service partners and together honors leaders from military families and backgrounds through scholarships. The NFL partners with the Pat Tillman Foundation, which provides more than $24 million in academic scholarships, lifelong leadership development, and community to more than 800 Tillman Scholars. Salute to Service is the NFL’s year-long initiative to honor, empower, and connect our nation’s service members, veterans, and their families.

“Pat Tillman made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and we are committed to ensuring that his life and legacy are forever honored and celebrated across the entire NFL family,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “Pat loved football, but most importantly, he was grounded in service to others and making a difference in this world.  We are so proud of the Tillman Foundation and the Tillman Scholar’s program whose mission is to help leaders make real change. These four Tillman Scholars have done just that and we are honored to have them join us on the field to represent the Pat Tillman Foundation as this year’s coin toss captains.”

All four Tillman scholars were surprised with their selection as an Honorary Captain by Arizona Cardinals Legend and former Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year J.J. Watt – which can be seen here.

“We’re so proud of these four scholars, who represent the more than 800 Tillman Scholars in our community and lead through action in their respective fields,” said Dan Futrell, PTF CEO and 2011 Tillman Scholar. “Their impact is part of a broader ripple effect started by the service and humble leadership of Pat himself. We are grateful to the NFL for their continued support and partnership.”

Below are more details about the four Super Bowl LVII Honorary Captains:

FABERSHA FLYNT, 2021 Tillman Scholar (Military Spouse, Ed.D. candidate) Flynt married her husband, Staff Sgt. Bryan A. Lewis in 2005. Tragedy struck Flynt’s life when her husband was killed in March 2006 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Through her unfathomable loss, Flynt found her purpose in helping others in higher education. She has created a scholarship in memory of her late husband and founded an educational consulting firm geared towards helping institutes of higher education foster learning environments that value diversity and inclusion for marginalized students.

Flynt has made it her mission to help traditionally underserved and underrepresented students pursue their educational goals. By pursuing a doctorate in Higher Education Administration at the University of Southern Mississippi through her scholarship from the Pat Tillman Foundation, Flynt will use relevant strategies to help give voice to the need for educational equality and its significance in providing “liberty and justice for all” within higher education and beyond.

ROBERT HAM, 2016 Tillman Scholar (U.S. Army Veteran – MFA, Film Production): Robert grew up in Los Angeles and has been making films since high school. He graduated with a B.A. in Electronic Media in 2005 and then joined the Army in 2007 as a combat documentarian and videographer. During his time in the military, he served a combat tour to Afghanistan in 2009-2010 and then would deploy to more than a dozen areas in the Pacific. Robert received the highest decoration for military storytelling, the Department of Defense Military Videographer of the Year award, three — the most in Army history. Robert left active duty in 2014 and stayed in the Army Reserves until 2017. Robert graduated from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts with an MFA in Film/TV in 2017.
A three-time Emmy winner, he now co-owns and operates Hammr Productions, a production company he started with his late wife Melanie. Robert is currently directing a feature documentary called Searching For Bergdahl and in post-production on a second independent feature documentary, Interpreters Wanted, about the plight of Afghan Interpreters fighting their way to the U.S. Robert’s most recent feature documentary, Made With Melanie,shares the story of his wife and her battle with cancer.

HYEJUNG PARK, Ph.D. (U.S. Army Reservist – Ph.D., Developmental Psychology): As a beneficiary of the California Dream Act and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Dr. HyeJung Park has first-hand experience of the value of American democracy and the impact of American voters who exercise their right to promote equality, equity and justice. These experiences inspired her to pursue both military service and academic research to contribute to our community’s promotion of equitable opportunities for the next generation of young people.

HyeJung completed her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology at ASU in 2022, examining the promotive and protective factors that buffer life stressors while fostering growth among marginalized youth. HyeJung aspires to be a collaborator/developer of empirically-supported legislation to promote resilient development for at-risk and marginalized youth. She hopes to be an effective liaison between the developmental research community and Congress, to inform public policy development, implementation and evaluation.
DAVE PRAKASH  (U.S. Air Force Veteran – M.S., Stanford University): As an immigrant from India living in the U.S. during the September 11th attacks, Prakash resigned from his medical residency in Washington D.C. to commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Air Force. He entered pilot training to serve in combat roles and became a bomber pilot, serving in the B-52. As an operational test pilot, Prakash tested new weapons and systems that increased the lethality of the venerable bomber, but as a flight surgeon also cared for his fellow service members. He initiated a program to modernize B-52 ejection seats that will ultimately save lives and reduce life-cycle costs.

As a Tillman Scholar, Prakash attended Stanford’s Graduate School of Business in order to help build a company that will save lives by helping surgeons think more like pilots by applying aviation safety principles and electronic checklists in the operating room. Today, Dave works on artificial intelligence and machine-learning technology in healthcare and on future aerospace systems. In his free time, Dave advises early-stage companies and is a member of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Renal Disease Council.