Before US Army Sgt. Martin LaMar was killed in Iraq, he spent his weekends cheering on the San Francisco 49ers. Next week, LaMar's service will be honored during Super Bowl LIV.
"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 feel like I've done a little part in their lives," Kittle told reporters on Friday.
The slain soldier from Sacramento dreamed of serving in the military since he was a young boy. After high school, he joined the US Marine Corps and was deployed to the first Gulf War during his 4-year stint. He then worked for several years as an electrician but eventually joined the Army in 2007.
LaMar was shot and killed in 2011 while he was deployed in Mosul. He was survived by his wife and five children, including a 3-month-old daughter he didn't get to meet, according to CNN affiliate KRON. The family lives in Elk Grove, south of Sacramento.
"When we got married, he told me I would not have a husband, that Sundays were his days. That he'd be watching football sunup to sundown," his wife, Josephine, told KRON. "And I was okay with it until I thought, wait a minute, how about you teach me so I learn to love it? And he did, and I loved it and I became the biggest fan."
Next Sunday, Josephine and their 16-year-old son Nicolas -- who has since then become a big 49ers fan -- will be cheering for Kittle and his team as they face the Kansas City Chiefs.
Kittle, who will be making his Super Bowl debut, said he's looking forward to seeing Josephine and Nicolas at Hard Rock Stadium.
"It's a special privilege to be able to team up with USAA and TAPS to award a trip to the Super Bowl to Sergeant LaMar's family in recognition of his military service and paying the ultimate sacrifice in service of our country," the tight end said in a statement.
- Former Iowa TE George Kittle is treating the family of a fallen Army sergeant to the Super Bowl
- SAW: Super Bowl advice
- Super Bowl Safety
- RCTC hosts Super Bowl party
- Iowa TE Noah Fant to declare for NFL draft, skip bowl game
- Fallen North Iowa hero honored
- Iowa TE T.J. Hockenson leaving for the NFL draft
- New Iowa law helps families of fallen officers, firefighters
- Super Bowl send off for Super Kid for 2018
- Super Bowl economic impact already being felt