To understand just how profound the impact former Arizona State and Arizona Cardinals standout Pat Tillman made when he left the NFL to enlist in the United States Army, one need look no further than Saturday's 10th installment of Pat's Run.
More than 30,000 participants turned out for the 2014 Pat's Run, a 4.2-mile run/walk on the campus of Arizona State.
Thousands Turn Out For 10th Annual Pat’s Run At Arizona State In Honor Of Pat Tillman pic.twitter.com/mU1lup2RNK— Before I Was Famous (@BeforeFamePics) April 26, 2014
Tillman was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan 10 years ago. The Pat Tillman Foundation established Pat's Run the following year.
A star of the Sun Devils' 1996 Pac-10 championship team, Tillman is an icon of Arizona State football. But his legacy transcends what he accomplished on the football field.
Tillman's enlistment after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks is an enduring symbol of American patriotism.
Before becoming an Army Ranger, Tillman was an Academic All-American at Arizona State. Pat's Run honors Tillman's dedication to education by awarding 60 military veterans and veterans' spouses with scholarships.
Sun Devils head coach Todd Graham told the Arizona Republic in 2012 that, upon his hire, he wanted Tillman's legacy to be the backbone of the Arizona State program.
Pat was passionate, and he wasn't single-minded. He was passionate about a lot of things. Anything he did he did with passion. Whether it be academics, whether it be anything. And I like that he also had flaws. He made mistakes; he owned up to them. He was a man's man. So the ideals that we're trying to teach to our players, he really is the one person who exemplifies all those things. On the field. In the classroom. In the community. He was just an unbelievable giver.
Some of the reminders around Sun Devil Stadium—where Pat's Run participants end their day on the 42-yard line—include Tillman's image from his Arizona State playing days, plastered across the main doors of the appropriately named Tillman Tunnel.
Graham's commitment to the Tillman legacy includes a personal meet-and-greet, which, per ASU.edu, Graham hosts for Pat's Run participants who raise $1,000 or more.
There was no shortage of football players involved in Saturday's Pat's Run, either.
Pat's Run was awesome! Lots of mascots and football players! pic.twitter.com/WjTzENjSPn— Big Mama (@Nlbaker15) April 26, 2014
And for those who chose to participate but could not be in Tempe, Ariz., Saturday, the Pat Tillman Foundation hosts "shadow runs" in 33 cities around the nation.
A decade later, Tillman's spirit doesn't just live on. As Pat's Run continues to grow, so too does Tillman's influence.