On this day in 2004: Cardinals' star Pat Tillman killed in Afghanistan

Shalise Manza Young
Yahoo Sports Contributor

Fifteen years ago Monday, Pat Tillman, the Arizona Cardinals safety who walked away from the NFL to join the U.S. Army, was killed in Afghanistan.

The Cardinals and NFL are among those remembering Tillman on social media:

Tillman was the oldest of three brothers. On May 31, 2002, Tillman and one of his two younger brothers, Kevin, signed up for the Army in response to the 9/11 attacks nearly a year earlier.

Pat had played incredibly well in 2000 and 2001, and Kevin was part of the Cleveland Indians’ farm system. The two left behind their respective sports careers to enlist, and after basic training were accepted into the elite Army Rangers.

After graduating from Ranger School in November 2003, Pat Tillman was deployed to Afghanistan and Forward Operating Base Salerno. Less than five months later, he was killed.

Tillman was just 27.

Initially, the Army reported Tillman was killed by enemy combatants, but after an investigation it was learned he was the victim of friendly fire. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Silver Star for his service.

Tillman is one of 2,216 American servicemen and women killed in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The foundation started in his name chooses “Tillman Scholars” each year — military veterans and spouses who seek to become leaders in the public and private sector in fields like medicine, technology, education, the arts and other areas.

The Arizona Cardinals built a statue honoring Pat Tillman outside of University of Phoenix Stadium. Tillman was killed in Afghanistan 15 years ago Monday. (Getty Images)

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