Tillman Brothers Honored With Arthur Ashe Courage Award
July 17, 2003
HOLLYWOOD, Calif. -- Former Arizona State linebacker Pat Tillman and his brother Kevin, a former ASU baseball player, were the recipients of the 11th annual Arthur Ashe Courage Award, presented last night at the ESPY Awards at the Kodak Theatre. The award, given annually to individuals whose contributions transcend sports, was accepted by Richard Tillman, Pat and Kevin's younger brother. Both brothers were in the midst of professional sports careers when they chose to enlist in the Army.
Pat Tillman was a standout for ASU from 1994-97, where he was a three-time all-conference selection and was named the 1997 Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year. He earned All-American honors in 1997 from the Associated Press, Football News and the Sporting News and was also a two-time Academic All-American selection. He spent the next four seasons with the NFL's Arizona Cardinals as a safety.
In May of 2002, Pat announced his intentions to join the Army, turning down a $3.6 million contract offer in the process. Both he and his brother Kevin, a former minor league baseball prospect in the Cleveland Indians organization, committed to three-year military terms, landing spots with the elite U.S. Army Rangers. The two served in the Middle East as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
One of the most notable aspects of the Tillmans' story is the fact that the brothers have decided to decline all of the countless requests over the last year to tell their story publicly. They have remained quiet and in turn, chose not to take part in the ESPY Awards.
'The Tillman brothers' story is remarkably inspiring,' said Ron Semiao, senior vice president, ESPN Original Entertainment. 'They turned their backs on stardom and potential fortune, dedicated themselves to a larger cause and never once sought glory or recognition. Pat and Kevin's approach of leading by example is reminiscent of the way Arthur Ashe lived his life and like Arthur, the Tillmans' decisions have had a profound impact.'
Last year, The Arthur Ashe Courage Award honored Todd Beamer, Mark Bingham, Tom Burnett and Jeremy Glick, four passengers who lost their lives September 11 on United Flight 93. Previous recipients include: Jim Valvano (1993), Steve Palermo (1994) Howard Cosell (1995), Loretta Claiborne (1996), Muhammad Ali (1997), Dean Smith (1998), Billie Jean King (1999), Dave Sanders (2000) and Cathy Freeman (2001).
In other award categories at the 2003 ESPY Awards, two other Sun Devils were up for honors. Wrestler Eric Larkin, the 2003 NCAA Champion at 149 pounds and Dan Hodge Award winner as the best wrestler in the nation, was in the final four for Best Male College Athlete along with Carmelo Anthony (Syracuse, Basketball), T.J. Ford (Texas, Basketball) and Carson Palmer (USC, Football). Anthony went home with the honors in that division.
Barry Bonds, a Sun Devil from 1983-85, earned the fifth ESPY of his career when he was named the best Major League Baseball Player in a list of nominees that included Randy Johnson, Alex Rodriguez, Miguel Tejada and Barry Zito. Bonds was also up for Best Male Athlete, an award he won in 1994. Lance Armstrong went home with those honors for 2003.