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Pat Tillman was a star safety for the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals. An undersized linebacker in college, he started as a safety for the Cardinals his rookie year. In 2000, Sports Illustrated’s Paul Zimmerman named him to his All-Pro team after a season that included 155 tackles. When presented with a $3.6 million contract to play for the next three years after the 2001 season, Tillman turned the Cardinals down. Did he want to play for another NFL team? No. Was he negotiating for a higher offer? No. He turned down the Cardinals to enlist in the U.S. Army. Influenced by the September 11, 2001 attacks, Tillman felt an obligation to serve his country.
Along with his brother Kevin, he became an Army Ranger. He served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan before being killed by what was later determined to be “friendly fire.” The circumstances surrounding death led to military investigations and considerable controversy. Tillman, an inspirational hero, made the ultimate sacrifice for his country.
After his death, the Pat Tillman Foundation was founded with the mission is to carry forward Pat’s legacy by inspiring people to make positive changes in themselves and in the world around them.
“In our blessed and mostly peaceful society we’re not as familiar with courage as we once were. We ascribe the virtue to all manner of endeavors that only really require skill, fortitude and a little daring, the qualities Pat Tillman showed on the football field. Pat’s best service to his country was to remind us all what courage really looks like, and that the purpose of all good courage is love.”
- Senator John McCain,
at Pat Tillman’s memorial service, May 3, 2004
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