80. Pat Tillman: The Greatest Sacrifice

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One of the most selfless, and patriotic Americans to ever serve in the United States Military in recent years was Pat Tillman. Tillman enlisted into the U.S. Army in 2002 following the terrorist attacks on American soil. He left behind a lucrative contract for playing football for the Arizona Cardinals. Many Americans view Tillman as a man of strong moral and ethical convictions, who put aside a life of personal wealth to serve his country in its time of need.

Born on November 6, 1976 in Fremont, California, Tillman excelled in sports. He led his high school football team, Leland High School, to a championship in his senior year. He earned a full, football scholarship to play at Arizona State University in 1994. He was named Pac 10 Player of the Year in his junior year, and was selected by the Arizona Cardinals in the 1998 NFL draft. Selfless during his entire life, Tillman turned down a five-year, $9 million contract with the St. Louis Rams because of his loyalty to the Cardinals, and to his fans.

Following the September 11 attacks, Tillman turned down a $3.6 million contract with the Cardinals to enlist into the Army to help combat terrorism. Along with his brother Kevin, who turned down a career in professional baseball, the two men completed basic training, and were sent overseas. Tillman served several successful tours of duty in both Iraq, and Afghanistan before he was killed on April 22, 2004. The details surrounding his death became a controversy in the months after he was reported killed in action. Originally, the army listed his death as combat related. It wasn't until approximately one month after his death that the army changed the cause of death to friendly fire. Tillman's family claimed the army used Tillman to advance its image during a dark time in U.S. history. His death by friendly fire, which means he was killed by U.S. military personnel, not the enemy, caused a backlash against the army.

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