On Wednesday, Arizona State University unveiled a statue of fallen Army Ranger Pat Tillman outside Sun Devil Stadium.
The six-foot-tall bronze statue stands in front of the Tillman Tunnel that leads players to the field from the student athlete facility.
Several hundred people – including Tillman’s family, several Arizona State officials and former and current football players – all came to witness the unveiling of the statue that pays tribute to the Army Ranger.
“Pat spent his whole life trying to be the best person he could possibly be,” Pat Tillman’s brother, Kevin, said at the ceremony. “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.”
Pat Tillman for played for ASU as a linebacker from 1994 to 1998 and was selected by the Arizona Cardinals in the 1998 NFL Draft.
Eight months after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Tillman turned down a 3-year, $3.6 million contract to enlist in the United States Army.
After completing basic training and later graduating from Ranger school, Tillman was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in April 2004.
“Sun Devil Athletics is extraordinarily proud as we pay tribute to one of the greatest and most well-respected Sun Devils in history,” Vice President for Athletics Ray Anderson said in a press release. “The magnitude of Pat’s legacy extends far beyond this university, this community and the state of Arizona. Through the generosity of Arthur Pearce, the Pearce family, Jeff Davenport and the Tillman family, Pat Tillman and his legacy will not only lead our football team onto the field, but will continue to inspire our student-athletes, fans and all who encounter his statue at Sun Devil Stadium.”
Sun Devils Coach Todd Graham has ensured that Tillman’s spirit lives on at ASU by putting an image of Tillman up on every wall in the football complex.
“One of the reasons Pat is on every wall is [that] 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.”
Tillman was awarded the Arthur Ashe award in 2003 by ESPN and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2010.
Tillman was posthumously awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart, as well as promoted from specialist to corporal.