Corporal Pat Tillman (November 6, 1976 – April 22, 2004) was a scholar, athlete, leader, hero, friend and an American patriot. After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, he gave up a lucrative NFL career with the Arizona Cardinals to fight for his country as an Army Ranger; he died fighting in Afghanistan.
Born in San Jose, California to Mary and Patrick Tillman, he was the oldest of three brothers. Pat attended Leland High School from 1991 to 1994. He led his team to the Central Coast Section Division I Football Championship his senior year and earned co-Player of the Year honors. Pat earned a scholarship to Arizona State University.
In 1996, he helped lead the Sun Devils to the 1997 Rose Bowl after an undefeated regular season. Pat would come to dominate the position of linebacker earning him three selections to the All-Pac-10 Team and in 1997, he won the Pac-10 Conference's Defensive Player of the Year Award.
In the 1998 NFL draft, Pat was selected in the seventh round by Arizona as a starting safety. He recorded a franchise record 154 tackles in 2000. He pursued a master's degree in history from his alma mater. He volunteered with the Boys and Girls Club of Arizona, Boys Hope Girls Hope and March of Dimes. In 2002, he married his high school sweetheart Marie. Upon returning from their honeymoon, he told Marie that he was leaving football for the Army.
- His words from an interview the day after the attacks of September 11, 2001, speak for themselves:
"At times like this you stop and think about just how good we have it, what kind of system we live in, and the freedoms we are allowed. A lot of my family has gone and fought in wars and I really haven't done a d--n thing". 
US Army Ranger
Pat and his brother Kevin both joined the military at the same time, volunteering for a three-year term. They were assigned to the second battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment in Fort Lewis, Washington. Both brothers served tours in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, and in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom in 2004. Pat's unit was ambushed as it traveled through the rugged, canyon terrain of Eastern Afghanistan. His heroic efforts to provide cover for his fellow soldiers as they escaped from the canyon led to his tragic death.
The military's handling of his death as a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan spawned controversy. Originally he was reported as having been killed by enemy combatants, but later it emerged he was killed by friendly fire. It is standard military policy to investigate friendly fire incidents thoroughly before revealing any details. Charges of cover-up by his unit and his superiors surfaced. The incident attracted extra attention because the soldier had been a well-known professional athlete, and also because his death was controversial and the hostile liberal media wanted to attack any bad news of the Bush administration. After three-years of investigations his death was ruled a "friendly fire" incident, also known as fratricide.
A biography of Tillman, Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman by Jon Krakauer, was published by Doubleday in 2009.
Awards and Honors
Arizona State Sun Devils
- 1995, Second Team All Pac-10 All-Purpose Specialist
- 1995, Academic All Pac-10 Honorable Mention
- 1996, Second Team All Pac-10 Outside Linebacker
- 1996, 1997 Clyde B. Smith Academic Award
- 1996, 1997 GTE District VIII Academic All-American
- 1996, 1997 Academic All Pac-10
- 1997 East-West Shrine, Outside Linebacker, Game MVP
- 1997 Burger King Scholarship Award Winner
- 1997 Sporting News Honda Scholar-Athlete of the Year
- 1997 Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year
- 1997 ASU Most Valuable Player
- 1997 All-American (2nd team)
- 1997-98 Pac-10 Medalist (ASU male representative)
- 1998 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship Winner
- 1998 Sun Angel Student Athlete of the Year
- Linking Sports and Communities; Tucson, Arizona
- Audie Murphy Patriotism Award; Decatur, Alabama
- Victor Awards; Las Vegas, Nevada
- NFL Hall of Fame Game; Canton, Ohio
- No.40 Retired with Cardinals
- San Pedro Sports Walk of Fame
- San Jose Sports Hall of Fame
- No.42 Retired at Arizona State
- Inaugural Lott Trophy Award
- Inducted as Honorary FDNY Member
- 2005 Schow Donnelly Award
- U.S. Army Corporal rank
- U.S. Military Silver Star
- U.S. Military Purple Heart
- Gallery of American Heroes
- Essay:Pat Tillman was not an atheist
- Essay: Pat Tillman was DEFINITELY not an atheist