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Pat Tillman, a native of Freemont, Calif., graduated from high school after helping lead his football team to the Central Coast Division I Football Championship. Pat Tillman excelled both on and off the field at ASU. As a linebacker, he helped the Sun Devils go undefeated during the 1996 season and get a bid to play in the 1997 Rose Bowl. Later, he was named the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year. Academically, Tillman majored in marketing and graduated in 1997 from the W. P. Carey School of Busines with a 3.85 GPA, earning many academic awards like the Clyde B. Smith Academic Award, the Sporting News Honda Scholar-Athlete of the Year, and the 1998 Sun Angel Student Athlete of Year.
After his Sun Devil career, Tillman was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in 1998, where he was an NFL All-Pro selection and where he played for his entire career. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2002 in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks. He was killed by friendly fire in combat in Afghanistan in April 2004.
After his death, the Pat Tillman Foundation was established in 2005 by his family and friends to carry forward Tillman's legacy by inspiring and supporting those striving for positive change in themselves and the world. The Arizona Cardinals and ASU retired the numbers that Tillman wore for both teams, and Sun Devils honor him each year during “Pat’s Run,” which is a fundraiser for the Pat Tillman Foundation. In 2011, ASU established the Pat Tillman Veterans Center to provide assistance to veterans concerning benefits, deployments, information, and referrals, as well as provide a place where veterans can gather for study groups and social activities.