Patrick Tillman (1976-2004)

An Act of Congress – S. 2806 -- named the bridge at the Hoover Dam Bypass for Gov. Donal Neil “Mike” O’Callaghan and Pat Tillman, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush on Dec. 8, 2004.

Patrick Tillman – the oldest of three boys – was born to Mary and Patrick on Nov. 6, 1976, in San Jose, California. Without a television in the home, the boys spent much of their time reading and playing outdoors. A talented high school football player, Tillman received a scholarship to play for Arizona State University.

In 1997, he helped lead the ASU Sun Devils to the Rose Bowl after an undefeated season. Tillman’s intensity made him a quick fan favorite, and his skill as a linebacker earned him three designations to the All-PAC-10 team and the PAC-10 Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year Award in 1997. Tillman was also chosen for the PAC-10 All-Academic Football Team, as well as the NCAA’s Post-Graduate Scholarship for academic and athletic excellence. He graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.S. in Marketing in just three and a half years.

The Arizona Cardinals selected him in the 7th round of the 1998 NFL Draft. He quickly became the team’s starting safety and, with 144, broke the franchise record for tackles in 2000. Tillman never let success go to his head – he continued to drive the same truck he had in college (with no air conditioning) and refused to be tethered to a cell phone. He was an avid reader and lively debater, often drawing strangers into conversations.

He kept himself challenged in the off-season, competing in a marathon and a half Ironman triathlon, while pursuing a Master’s degree in history from his alma mater. He also volunteered with the Boys and Girls Club of Arizona, Boys Hope Girls Hope, and the March of Dimes, and read and talked to students in schools across the Phoenix Valley.

In the aftermath of the attacks on September 11, 2001, Tillman proudly put his NFL career with the Arizona Cardinals on hold to serve his country. He and his brother Kevin joined the U.S. Army in July 2002, committing to a three-year term and were assigned to the second battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment in Fort Lewis, Washington. They served tours in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 and in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom in 2004 and, together, received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 11th Annual ESPY Awards in 2003.

Tillman’s family and friends created the Pat Tillman Foundation in 2004, following his death in Afghanistan. Inspired by his distinguished life, the Pat Tillman Foundation is building a community of scholars dedicated to improving their own lives, the lives of their families and their country by creating a spirit of service.

The Pat Tillman Foundation is a national leader in providing resources and educational support to veterans, active service members and their dependants. The Tillman Military Scholars program aids all veterans and specifically the ever-growing population of veterans and dependents of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. The mission of the Pat Tillman Foundation is to invest in veterans and their families through education, community and advocacy.

For information about the Foundation, visit

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