Sun Devil Athletics unveiled a new statue in Sun Devil Stadium to honor American hero Pat Tillman on Wednesday. The bronze statue of the ASU star stands at 6-foot-tall and is 400-pounds. The tribute was placed in front of the new Tillman Tunnel that leads players from the new Student-Athlete Facility onto Frank Kush Field. Players are expected to start a tradition of touching the Tillman statue as they take the field. The statue of the brave Army Ranger pays tribute to one of the greatest Sun Devils in school history.
Several hundred people including Tillman’s family, former and current ASU players and university officials were at the ceremony for the the ASU and College Football Hall of Fame inductee.
“Pat spent his whole life trying to be the best person he could possibly be,” Tillman’s brother, Kevin, said before the statue was unveiled. “He didn’t focus on money, he didn’t focus on fame, he didn’t focus on a pretty statue. It was, ‘How can I make myself a better person in all these different facets of my life?’ And ASU gave him an opportunity to do that.”
“It is something that is very important,” ASU head coach Todd Graham said. “Obviously, who he was as a person, giving his life for his country, but who he was as a Sun Devil. That is pretty special. Obviously, I have a tremendous respect for the football player that he was. I mean he was a warrior … It means a lot because of the person that he was. We talk a lot about brotherhood and how important his family was to him. What type of son he was, what type of brother he was, what type of teammate he was.”
The statue was donated by Sun Devil alumni Arthur Pearce and created by fellow ASU alum and local artist Jeff Davenport. The artist had this about his creation:
“The journey of creating the Pat Tillman sculpture has been incredibly rewarding, and ever so emotional for me. I am still finding it hard to believe that this honor has been given to me. I will be forever grateful to Arthur Pearce for having the confidence and trust in my ability to see this project to fruition. The fact that I am an ASU graduate also makes the project that much more important to me. I have felt a kindred spirit with all the people whom I have been in contact with that are fellow graduates. What an amazing project this has been for me. For those who know me, I’m sure they would not be surprised to hear that I have shed several tears along the way, both happy and sad. This sculpture is truly the highlight of my artistic career and indeed the highest honor I have achieved.”
Tillman played at Arizona State from 1994-1997 and then went on to play for the Arizona Cardinals. Tillman was a defensive back for the Cardinals until he walked away from a multimillion-dollar contract to enlist in the Army following the attacks of September 11th. Pat joined the Army Rangers and served several tours in combat before he died in the mountains of Afghanistan. Tillman was only 27-years-old when he died in 2004.