Charles Tillman wins Walter Payton Man of the Year Award
Perhaps credit belongs to his creation of the Cornerstone Foundation in 2005 which has raised more than $1 million to help improve the lives of chronically ill children in the Chicago area.
Maybe it was his continued pursuit of research and information to help children with the same medical condition as his 5-year-old daughter, Tiana, who was diagnosed in 2008 with dilated cardiomyopathy.
It could even be his glass-half-full mentality while standing on the sideline in the final seven games with a torn triceps and knee injury.
There are a multitude of reasons why Bears cornerback Charles Tillman won the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, and it could not have gone to a more deserving player.
A finalist twice in three years, Tillman was chosen to receive the honors at Radio City Music Hall Saturday. After receiving the award from Roger Goodell, the 32-year-old corner let all his emotions out.
"This is No. 1," he said. "I couldn't even talk. I can talk about going to Super Bowls, and creating turnovers and forcing fumbles, getting picks, getting touchdowns, but I've never been so nervous in my life to get on stage and talk in front of so many people with so much passion about what I do and my daughter and my family."
Tillman's foundation originally helped children prepare for school but changed direction when Tiana received a heart transplant in 2008. The goal quickly shifted to aid the children in the Chicago area who are suffering from similar illnesses.
"I love doing what I do, but the saddest part about having my foundation is not everyone makes it," he said. "Sometimes a kid will pass. It hurts. It really does."
Tillman became the fifth Bears player to receive the award since its creation in 1970. He forced three fumbles and intercepted three passes in eight games in 2013.
The NFL Foundation donated $25,000 to his charity for winning the award along with the additional $1,000 for being Chicago's candidate.