NFL standout and Army Ranger, Corporal Pat Tillman would have turned 35 years old today. Instead, he was killed in a friendly fire accident in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004.
Tillman's story is an inspiring one. A linebacker at Arizona State University, he was chosen as Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year for the 1997-98 season. Not just a jock, he majored in Marketing and earned a 3.84 GPA. He might have gone far with his Marketing degree, but a half-million-dollar yearly contract with the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals was too good to pass up.
In 2001, Tillman's star was rising and he was offered an even more lucrative three-year contract… but then came 9/11. Inspired by the events of that tragic day to fight for his country, Tillman turned down the Cardinals and joined the U.S. Army in May 2002, along with his brother Kevin (who gave up a chance to play baseball with the Cleveland Indians). The move captured the respect of football fans and patriots nationwide, and Tillman is remembered as a man who cared more for his ideals than for money and fame.
On the occasion of his birthday, we pay tribute to Pat Tillman by presenting a few highlights from his football career…
…And one of many fan tributes to Tillman, set to the song "There Goes My Hero."