Former Sun Devil Pat Tillman Killed In Afghanistan
April 23, 2004
By JOHN J. LUMPKIN
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - Pat Tillman, who walked away from his professionalfootball career to join the Army Rangers, was killed in Afghanistan, U.S.officials said Friday.
The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said a formalannouncement was expected later in the day. Spokesmen at the Pentagon and U.S.Army declined comment.
There were no immediate details how Tillman died. He was 27.
A military official, also speaking on the condition of anonymity, said thata soldier had been killed in action in Afghanistan Thursday, but could notconfirm that the soldier was Tillman.
Some members of the Army's elite Ranger units were taking part in the huntfor al-Qaida and Taliban fighters in southeastern Afghanistan, the militaryofficial said.
Tillman played four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals before enlisting inthe Army in May 2002. The safety turned down a three-year, $3.6 million dealfrom Arizona.
He made the decision after returning from his honeymoon with his wife,Marie.
Tillman's brother, Kevin, a former minor league baseball prospect in theCleveland Indians' organization, also joined the Rangers and served in theMiddle East. They committed to three-year stints in the Army.
Tillman's agent, Frank Bauer, has called him a deep and clear thinker whohas never valued material things.
In 2001, Tillman turned down a $9 million, five-year offer sheet from theSuper Bowl champion St. Louis Rams out of loyalty to the Cardinals, and byjoining the Army, he passed on millions more from the team.
Tillman turned aside interview requests after joining the Army. In December,during a trip home, he made a surprise visit to his Cardinal teammates.
'For all the respect and love that all of us have for Pat Tillman and hisbrother and Marie, for what they did and the sacrifices they made ... believeme, if you have a chance to sit down and talk with them, that respect and thatlove and admiration increase tenfold,' Coach Dave McGinnis said at the time.'It was a really, really enriching evening.'
It was not immediately clear when Tillman went to Afghanistan.
The 5-foot-11, 200-pound Tillman was distinguished by his intelligence andappetite for rugged play. As an undersized linebacker at Arizona State, he wasthe Pac-10's defensive player of the year in 1997.
He set a franchise record with 224 tackles in 2000 and warmed up for lastyear's training camp by competing in a 70.2-mile triathlon in June.
Tillman carried a 3.84 grade point average through college and graduatedwith high honors in 3ï¿½ academic years with a degree in marketing.
'You don't find guys that have that combination of being as bright and astough as him,' Phil Snow, who coached Tillman as Arizona State's defensivecoordinator, said in 2002. 'This guy could go live in a foxhole for a year byhimself with no food.'
Tillman and his brother Kevin last year won the Arthur Ashe Courage award atthe 11th annual ESPY Awards.