Tillman left an NFL career to join the army after 9/11.
Pat Tillman gave up a lucrative career in the NFL to join the U.S. Army after the terrorist attacks on 9/11. He died in the mountains in Afghanistan from friendly fire.
Tillman’s alma mater Arizona State University has honored his bravery with a statue. The football players will leave the locker room through Tillman Tunnel and touch the statue before they take the field. From ESPN:
Arizona State unveiled a bronze statue of Tillman during a ceremony at Sun Devil Stadium on Wednesday, a monument designed as a tribute to the man who gave so much and as inspiration to the players trying to follow his footsteps.
“Pat spent his whole life trying to be the best person he could possibly be,” Tillman’s brother, Kevin, said before the drape was dropped. “He didn’t focus on money, he didn’t focus on fame, he didn’t focus on a pretty statue. It was, ‘How can I make myself a better person in all these different facets of my life?’ And ASU gave him an opportunity to do that.”
The ceremony, held in the redesigned football facilities in the north end zone, drew several hundred people, including Tillman’s family, former and current ASU players and university officials.
Tillman played at Arizona State from 1994-97 and went on to play for the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, before walking away from a multimillion contract to serve his country in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Tillman became an Army Ranger in 2003 and served until being killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in 2004.
Current Sun Devils coach Todd Graham has embraced Tillman’s spirit and his family during his six years at Arizona State, making sure every player knew the impact Tillman had. Graham also made sure every wall in the redesigned football complex included at least one photo of the man who never backed down from a challenge.
The players see an image of Tillman at the end of the tunnel where they enter the field, and the Sun Devils will now start a tradition of touching the statue before taking the field.
“One of the reasons Pat is on every wall is he earned to be on every wall,” Graham said. “He embodied what we are about. We’re trying to teach guys to win and be a champion in life, and that’s what we’re here to celebrate. That’s what Pat’s life was all about.”
Scholar. Athlete. Family Man.
— Sun Devil Football (@FootballASU) August 31, 2017
ASU unveils Pat Tillman statue; Sun Devils will exit locker room through Tillman Tunnel, touch statue before games
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) August 31, 2017
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