Pat Tillman turned down a $3.6 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals to join the Army in May 2002.
At the time, he said he needed to "pay something back" for the comfortable life he lived. He went from the defensive secondary to the 75th Army Ranger Regiment, based at Fort Lewis, Wash. Tillman eventually went to Afghanistan with his unit.
His coach at the time, Dave McGinnis, said then that Tillman had "very deep and true convictions ... He's a deep thinker, and believe me, this was something he thought out."
Tillman and his younger brother, Kevin, enlisted together, and Pat Tillman reportedly had hopes of resuming his NFL career after the three-year commitment. Both also served tours of duty in Iraq in 2003.
Pat Tillman, 27, a California native, made the announcement two weeks after his marriage in 2002 that he planned to enlist. His agent, Frank Bauer, said then that his wife Marie supported Tillman's decision to leave football for the army.
A two-year starter at free safety, the 5-foot-11 200-pound Tillman carried a 3.84 grade point average through college and graduate summa cum laude in 3½ years with a degree in marketing from Arizona State.
As a linebacker in college, he was thought to be too small. As a safety in pro football, it was said he was too slow. He set the Phoenix club record for tackles in 2000.
That resulted in a five-year offer from the St. Louis Rams, but out of loyalty to the team that drafted him 226th out of 241, he stayed with the Cardinals.