Tillman is being honored posthumously for his contributions to ASU football, professional football, and the U.S. Army.
Tillman started his career as a linebacker at ASU in 1994. He excelled at the position, despite being relatively small (5 foot 11 inches) compared to others. In his senior year, he was voted Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year, and played on the Sun Devils’ 1997 Rose Bowl team, which went 11-0 during the 1996 regular season. Tillman majored in marketing and graduated from the W. P. Carey School of Business in three-and-a-half years, maintaining a 3.84 GPA.
He was selected by the Arizona Cardinals in the 1998 NFL draft and shifted to the safety position during his rookie year. Tillman turned down a five-year, $9 million contract offer from the St. Louis Rams out of loyalty to the Cardinals.
In May 2002, eight months after the 9/11 terror attacks, Tillman enlisted in the U.S. Army. He was assigned to the 2nd Ranger Battalion in Fort Lewis, Wash., and was deployed to Iraq, where he participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was later re-deployed to Afghanistan as part of the 75th Ranger Regiment, where he was killed on April 22, 2004.
In 2004, a group of Tillman’s family members and friends created the Pat Tillman Foundation. The organization pledged $1.25 million to ASU to create and endow the Tillman Scholars-ASU Leadership Through Action™ program at the W. P. Carey School of Business, which celebrates Tillman’s legacy and extraordinary accomplishments as a student-athlete at ASU both on and off the field.
In 2008, understanding the challenges experienced by military families and the increased need for educational resources, the foundation refocused its mission to invest in military veterans and their spouses through educational scholarships and build a diverse community of leaders committed to service to others. To date, 230 Tillman Military Scholars representing 34 states and attending 71 academic institutions nationwide have been awarded more than $3.2 million in scholarship support.
Tillman was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2010.