"Passion is kind of an important word for me,
whether it’s playing sports or whether it’s just living or whatever you’re going to do. In my opinion you should be passionate about it or else, why do it?" - Pat Tillman
"Somewhere inside, we hear a voice.
It leads us in the direction of the person we wish to become. But it is up to us whether or not to follow." - Pat Tillman
"Passion is what makes life interesting,
what ignites our soul, fuels our love and carries our friendships, stimulates our intellect, and pushes our limits." - Pat Tillman
"I want to feel, experience and live every emotion.
I will suffer through the bad for the heights of the good." - Pat Tillman
Arizona State University honors the life and legacy of former football star and military veteran Pat Tillman. At the Pat Tillman Veterans Center, we see firsthand how Pat’s life and principles live on through our active military, veteran and dependent students, on campus and online. Learn more about Pat’s story and the ways ASU honors the student behind the legacy.
Pat Tillman's story
Pat Tillman was a born leader who pushed limits in all aspects of his life.
Throughout his youth, he was adventurous, inquisitive, and even then, driven to perform his best. His diligence and relentless curiosity were his trademark, along with a challenger mentality. He excelled in his athletic pursuits, but his talent went beyond the field.
A dedicated student, during his time at ASU Pat was awarded the Clyde B. Smith Academic Award in 1996 and 1997, and was named the Sporting News Honda Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 1997 and the Sun Angel Student Athlete of the Year in 1998. He earned a BS in marketing and graduated Summa Cum Laude in 3 ½ years. While playing for the Arizona Cardinals, he pursued a master’s degree in history from ASU. He continued to pursue knowledge throughout his life, reading voraciously and engaging in debate to develop and share new ideas.
At his high school in San Jose, California, Pat switched from playing baseball to football, despite his smaller size.
He excelled on the high school field, and his talent earned him a scholarship to play for the Sun Devils at ASU. He continued to excel in the sport at the university as a linebacker, leading the Sun Devils to the 1997 Rose Bowl after an undefeated season. He earned three consecutive selections to the Pac-10 All-Academic Football Team, a 1st team Academic All-American honor, and the NCAA’s Post-Graduate Scholarship for academic and athletic excellence.
The Arizona Cardinals selected him in the 7th round of the 1998 NFL Draft. Pat became the team’s starting safety and broke the franchise record for tackles in 2000 with 224. He remained loyal to his team throughout his professional football career, and turned down a contract with the St. Louis Rams in order to continue playing for the Cardinals, despite the financial benefits of the Rams’ offer.
In 2002, Pat walked away from a $3.6 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals to enlist in the U.S. Army.
On the evening of April 22, 2004, Pat’s unit was ambushed as it traveled through eastern Afghanistan, leading to his tragic and untimely death.
Following his death, his family and friends established the Pat Tillman Foundation. Created to honor Pat's legacy by inspiring others to create their own, the foundation invests in military veterans and their spouses through academic scholarships — building a diverse community of leaders committed to service to others.
To read more about Pat’s story, visit the Pat Tillman Foundation.
*Content sourced from the Pat Tillman Foundation and Biography.com.
Pat Tillman: the ASU student behind the legacy
Pat Tillman was a born leader who pushed the limits in all aspects of his life. His values and growth mindset inspire the ASU community to come together for the greater good. Find out who he was as a Sun Devil from faculty and staff who knew him and current student veterans.
Here are just a few of the ways ASU honors the life and legacy of Pat Tillman.
This annual 4.2-mile race honors Pat’s life and legacy, and raises support and money for veteran and dependent scholarships through the Pat Tillman Foundation. In addition to the main run in Tempe, military units around the world participate in shadow runs. The Tempe run attracts more than 30,000 people each year. Participants share their stories on social media with #ASU42. Find out more about Pat's Run.
The Pat Tillman Veterans Center
Our center provides student veterans and dependents with support and service throughout their time at ASU. From assisting with education benefits to connecting students to resources and helping them adjust to campus life, we’re here to be students’ new team. We salute Pat’s legacy by providing inspired service throughout students’ ASU academic journeys.
Tillman Tunnel and Statue
Pat is an ASU football legend, and Sun Devil Athletics honors his legacy with the Tillman Tunnel, which leads onto Frank Kush Field. The tunnel is lined with photographs of Pat, and waiting at the end of the tunnel is a 7½-foot-tall bronze statue of his likeness. Players touch the statue as they charge onto the football field, symbolizing their dedication to play with passion.