Athletes compete in honor of fallen soldier Lori Piestewa

The National Native American Game is held in Lori Piestewa's honor, the first Native American woman to die in combat.

PHOENIX - More than 14 years after her death, Army soldier Lori Piestewa will be celebrated during three days of competition named in her honor.

"She was a good athlete. She was a good student," said Percy Piestewa, Lori's mother. "She was in ROTC for four years and a the top female athlete."

Piestewa was killed while serving in Iraq in 2003 and became the first Native American woman to be killed in combat. 

The woman was Hopi and Mexican and grew up in Tuba City, on the Navajo Nation, playing sports.

"She played all sports, however, her favorite sport was softball," Percy said. "She was varsity pitcher for the Tuba City Warriors."

The idea to honor her through sport began shortly after her death and had humble beginnings. 

"I saw it when we had 60 athletes and three sports up in Flagstaff and Tuba City," said Gary Nees, senior director of operations for the Arizona Sports Entertainment Commission. "At that time we were wondering if this was going to work or not."

Organizers point to Lori's sacrifice and legacy as the reason why they kept working and will be hosting 3,300 athletes for competition this year. 

Admission into the games is free and open to the public. Schedules can be found at the Arizona Sports Entertainment Commission website

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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