Pat Tillman whose death became the subject of national attention was an American footballer in the National Football League (NFL). He started his football career right from his high school days and later joined the Arizona Cardinals, an NFL team. However, in June 2002, Pat left his football career and enlisted in the United States Army, following the 9/11 attack. He was a hero of the war on terror, leaving contracts that were worth millions to fight for his country. Pat’s family, since his death, has been on a search and investigation to know exactly what and who killed him. Stay put as we tell you all you need to know about the former NFL star’s life and how his death occurred.
Right from childhood, Tillman was a passionate football fan and often played with his two younger brothers, Kevin and Richard. Born and raised in Fremont, California, Pat went to Bret Harte Middle School and Leland High School. Then, he was among the best players who helped his school’s football team compete in the Central Coast Division I Football Championship. He further enrolled at Arizona State University on a football scholarship.
Pat started professional football in the NFL in 1994 as a defensive player for the Arizona Cardinals. Despite being somewhat small for the position, he excelled as a linebacker for the team, proving his worth repeatedly. This made him to be among the selected for the major leagues in 1998. He took over the defensive position and participated in 10 out of the 16 games of his first season. He eventually succeeded in helping his team make it to the Rose Bowl that same year. Tillman is a man of integrity, and this he proved when St. Louis Ram offered him a $9 million worth of contract. Pat turned down the offer and rather chose to play solely for his team in the coming seasons.
During the 1994 season, Pat Tillman performed exceedingly beyond expectations. He finished the season with 155 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 1.5 sacks, 9 pass deflections, and 1 interception for 30 yards. Following this great success, Sports Illustrated awarded him a place in the NLF All-Pro team (2000). Finishing his NFL career 2001, he held the records of 238 tackles, 3 forced fumbles, 12 pass deflections, 3 fumble recoveries, and 2.5 sacks in the 60 games he played. He also ended as one of the best young players in the league.
While he excelled in football, all that soon came to an end with the September 11 attack which shook the whole world. Pat who received a 3-year contract renewal offer worth $3.6 million from the Cardinals at the time, turned it down for a place in the U.S Army. He decided to do something he felt will benefit his country more significantly; that was, to actively fight terrorism.
Pat Tillman enlisted in the army on 31st May 2002 which prompted his younger brother, Kevin Tillman who also had a promising career in football to abandon it and join him in the sacrificial move. This rare decision of theirs sparked media attention as many wondered how two brothers who were at the top of their lucrative sports careers would take such drastic turns.
By September 2002, the duo had completed their basic training and later that year, they completed the ‘Ranger Indoctrination Program’ and became assigned to 2nd Ranger Battalion, Fort Lewis, Washington. Pat Tillman lived in University Place with his wife before the U.S Army deployed him to Iraq. In 2003, he embarked in the invasion of Iraq as part of the Operation Iraq Program. Subsequently, he became redeployed to Afghanistan and that was where he met with his death.
The Untold Truth of Pat Tillman’s Death
On 22nd April 2004, the US Department of Defense reported that Pat Tillman has been killed in the mountains of Afghanistan after he received three consecutive shots on the head. The initial claim was that militants ambushed the army on a road near the Pakistan border, suggesting that Tillman’s injurious death was a result of enemy fire. But then, following his burial, controversy ensued when the Pentagon reported that Pat actually died during a friendly fire incident that ensued after the troops mistook close-by gunfire for enemy shots.
Subsequent reports further revealed that the military intentionally forestalled investigations and withheld proper information to hide the actual cause of Tillman’s death in order to save face. Their deliberate lies to his family also started raising suspicions that Pat could have been murdered, considering his critical views of then-incumbent administration and the Iraq War.
However, Pat’s family, especially his brother, Kevin requested further investigations into the matter. The U.S Defence Department Inspector General on 4th March 2006, consequently opened a criminal investigation over his death. Subsequently, the Pentagon on 26th March 2007, released a 2000-page concluding report detailing the outcome of investigations in which they apparently exonerated the military, describing their offenses as errors.