San Francisco 49ers star tight end George Kittle is bringing two special guests to Miami, Florida, next Sunday to watch the 2019 first-team all-pro take on the Kansas City Chiefs with the game’s biggest prize on the line.
Working alongside USAA and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, Kittle is providing tickets to Josephine and Nicolas LaMar, the widow and only son, respectively, of Sgt. Martin “Mick” LaMar.
LaMar was killed in Mosul, Iraq, on January 15, 2011 — the day of his wedding anniversary — when an Iraqi soldier training under the supervision of personnel from the 9th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team opened fire. The insider attack claimed the lives of LaMar and Sgt. Michael P. Bartley.
LaMar, 43, was survived by his wife and five children. He never met his youngest daughter.
Decades before, the Sacramento, California native completed a four-year enlistment in the United States Marine Corps, eventually trying his hand at the civilian life before the call of duty brought him to the Army’s ranks in 2007.
“[He] wanted to go back,” LaMar’s brother-in-law, Gilbert Alvarado, told the Sacramento Bee following LaMar’s death. “He wanted to fight for his country.”
LaMar’s sacrifice is one of many being honored by individual players and coaches around the National Football League. Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller, and Washington Redskins head coach Ron Rivera have each partnered with USAA and TAPS to provide a one-of-a-kind Super Bowl experience for military families.
“The work I do with the USAA and the TAPS organization is something I really have kind of fallen in love with,” Kittle told the Sacramento Bee. “I have a lot of family in the military, so it’s something that I just respect, and the sacrifice that they give is the ultimate sacrifice. So if I can ever give back and make a family’s day or just make them smile a little bit, then I’ve just done a little part in their lives.”
As part of the game day festivities, the LaMar family will be able to spend time with other players and coaches from around the league.
And while Kittle’s focus will inevitably be on the biggest game of his life once he emerges from the Hard Rock Stadium tunnel, the third-year pro knows he’ll have two fans in particular to draw inspiration from.
“As I hit the field to play in the Super Bowl, I find comfort in the fact that 49ers fans Josie and Nicolas LaMar will be cheering our team on.”
Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.