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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