Pat Tillman started his college career as a linebacker for Arizona State
University in 1994, when he secured the last remaining scholarship for
the team. Tillman excelled as a linebacker at Arizona State, despite being
relatively small for the position at five-feet eleven-inches (1.80 m) tall. As
a junior, he helped his team go undefeated that season as well as helping
them make it to the Rose Bowl that year. In 1997, he
was voted the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year.
Academically, Tillman majored in marketing and graduated
in three and a half years with a 3.85 GPA. He also earned
many academic awards including: the Clyde B. Smith
Academic Award in 1996 and 1997; the Sporting News
Honda Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 1997; and the 1998
Sun Angel Student Athlete of Year. He was inducted into
the College Football Hall of Fame in 2010.
In the 1998 National Football League Draft, Tillman
was selected as the 226th pick by the Arizona Cardinals. Tillman moved
over to play the safety position in the NFL and started ten of sixteen
games in his rookie season. He went on to become an NFL All-Pro
selection in 2000 and once turned down a five-year, $9 million contract
offer from the St. Louis Rams out of loyalty to the Cardinals.
In 2002, Pat Tillman proudly put his NFL career with the Arizona
Cardinals on hold to serve his country. This decision was just one of
many he made over the course of his lifetime to help others and serve a
cause greater than his own self-interest.
Pat joined the U.S. Army in 2002, committing to a three-year term.
He was assigned to the second battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment in
Fort Lewis, Washington. They served tours in Iraq during Operation Iraqi
Freedom in 2003, and in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom
in 2004. On the evening of April 22, 2004, Pat’s unit was ambushed
as it traveled through the rugged, canyon terrain of
eastern Afghanistan. His heroic efforts to provide cover
for fellow soldiers as they escaped from the canyon led
to his untimely and tragic death via fratricide.
Following Pat’s death in 2004, while serving with
the U.S. Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan,
his family and friends established the Pat Tillman
Upon inception, the Foundation pledged $1.25 million to Arizona State
University, Pat’s alma mater, to create and endow the Tillman Scholars-
ASU Leadership Through Action™ program at the W. P. Carey School
of Business. The program celebrates Pat’s legacy and his extraordinary
accomplishments and leadership as a student-athlete at ASU both on
and off the field.
In 2008, understanding the challenges experienced by military families
and the increased need for educational resources, the board of directors
led by Marie Tillman, refocused its mission: to invest in military veterans
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