Subject: Tribute to a Fallen Hero
Date: For the Week of April 26, 2004 (The FAX of Life)
Pat Tillman was never ordinary or dull. When he was five, he climbed onto
the roof of his family's two-story house, wrapped himself around a slender
tree trunk, and swayed in the wind for the fun of it -- during a windstorm. He
took up rock climbing and invented a weird personal game of leaping from
treetop to treetop like Tarzan -- but without vines or ropes.
In high school, he was the toughest player on the football field. While a
senior, he ran to the aid of a buddy in a fight outside a pizza parlor and beat
the daylights out of his friend's assailant. It got him 30 days in juvenile
detention. "I'm not proud of what happened, but I'm proud that I learned more
from that one bad decision than all the good decisions I've ever made," he
said later. "It made me realize that stuff you do has repercussions. You can
Told he wasn't big enough for Division I-A football, he went to Arizona State
as a "marginal recruit." There he scrapped and hustled and prepared for
every game with ferocious intensity. He was the Pac-10's defensive player of
the year in 1997 -- and graduated in three and one-half years with a 3.84
grade point average. Told that he wouldn't be able to make it in the NFL, he
played for the Arizona Cardinals from 1998-2002.
Then he shocked everybody -- except perhaps the people who knew him best
-- by walking away from a $3.6 million contract offer to join the U.S. Army to
fight against terrorism after the 9/11 attacks on the United States. He and his
brother Kevin, also a professional athlete with the Cleveland Indians
organization, became Army Rangers. In the words of a "FAX of Life" for June
3, 2002, he had "motives beyond money" for his young life.
Now Pat Tillman is dead at 27. He was killed in a firefight while involved in a
search-and-destroy mission in Afghanistan last week.
"What a waste!" some have said. No, what devotion to duty and patriotism!
The loss of his life is no greater tragedy than the deaths of others who have
made the supreme sacrifice in war -- and certainly no less. His death reminds
us all that war is serious work carried on by men and women who believe their
calling is higher than athletics, money, or personal comfort. Join me to pray
for them today.
"He just viewed life through a different prism than a lot of other people do,"
said Tim Layden, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated. Maybe more of us
should look at life through that prism to get clear about what really matters.
Tribute to a Fallen Hero