Pat Tillman was much more than just a football player or member of the United States Army. His legacy extends far beyond his life, which was tragically cut short in 2004 at the age of 27.
With Memorial Day this coming long weekend, here is a chance to honor Tillman's memory with a look back at his life and the lasting impact of the charity created in his name.
The Life of Pat Tillman
After a successful college football career at Arizona State -- from which he graduated in just 3.5 years with a 3.85 GPA -- Tillman played in the NFL for the Arizona Cardinals from 1998 to 2001. Tillman recorded 374 tackles and three interceptions in 60 career NFL games, but the standout safety left professional football to enlist in the United States Army in May of 2002, having been inspired to do so by the Sept. 11 attacks.
Tillman went on to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan before being tragically killed on April 22, 2004, by friendly fire in Afghanistan. He was posthumously promoted from specialist to corporal, and also posthumously received the Silver Star and Purple Heart medals. Additionally, Tillman was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2010, and into the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame in 2018.
The Pat Tillman Foundation
Tillman's passing inspired his wife, Marie, as well as other family and friends, to create the Pat Tillman Foundation in 2004. Through its Tillman Scholars program, the Pat Tillman Foundation supports the education and leadership development of military service members, veterans, and their spouses. Applicants from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard have received scholarships from the foundation.
Since its first class of Tillman Scholars, the Tillman Foundation has raised and invested more than $24 million in academic scholarships, which cover all education-related costs, including tuition and book expenses.
The Tillman Scholars program is extremely selective and competitive, with 60 Tillman Scholars selected annually from pools of more than 2,000 applicants. More than 800 Tillman Scholars have been aided by this charity, and this group boasts a 3.6 average GPA, a 98% graduation rate, and a 96% employment rate.
Pat's Run And Team 226
One way the Pat Tillman Foundation raises money for the Tillman Scholars program is through the annual Pat's Run in Tempe, Arizona. This event has been held every year since 2005. It is a 4.2-mile walk/run that finishes at the 42-yard line of Arizona State University's Sun Devil Stadium. The number 42 was Tillman's jersey number when he played for the Sun Devils.
In addition to or in lieu of participating in Pat's Run, you can donate to the Pat Tillman Foundation through its website. The Pat Tillman Foundation is a non-profit, with all donations benefiting the Tillman Scholars program. You can make a one-time donation, or join the monthly membership program called Team 226. DraftKings, one of the best sports betting sites in the U.S., will match all donations from new Team 226 members, up to $50,000.