Monday marks the 15th anniversary of the death of Pat Tillman, who famously left the NFL following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, to enlist in the Army, only to be killed in 2004 by friendly fire in the mountains of Afghanistan.
Fans, friends and admirers took to social media to remember the 27-year-old native former Arizona Cardinals safety.
'We will always honor and preserve Pat Tillman's legacy, who lost his life 15 years ago,' read a tweet from the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
'We lost a true hero 15 years ago today,' read a tweet from the NFL's account. 'Rest in peace, Pat Tillman.'
'15 years ago today Pat Tillman lost his life serving in Afghanistan,' read a tweet from the Pat Tillman foundation, which aims to unite and empower military veterans and spouses. 'Here's to the man who followed his true calling, and the Tillman Scholars now carrying on his legacy.'
Veteran Mike Perry described Tillman on Twitter as 'a true hero in every sense of the word.'
The first NFL player to be killed in combat since Buffalo Bills guard Bob Kalsu died in the Vietnam war, Tillman was a seventh-round pick out of Arizona State in 1998 and promptly became a reliable, if unheralded leader of the Cardinals defense
The first NFL player to be killed in combat since Buffalo Bills guard Bob Kalsu died in the Vietnam war, Tillman was a seventh-round pick out of Arizona State in 1998 and promptly became a reliable, if unheralded leader of the Cardinals defense.
But it was in 2002 that Tillman first became well-known across the country when he and his brother Kevin, a former minor league baseball player, famously enlisted in the Army in response to the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.
The two were accepted into the elite Army Rangers and after graduating from that academy in 2003, they were deployed to Afghanistan.
Tillman would be used in Operation Iraqi Freedom, but was later returned to Afghanistan in 2004, where it was originally reported that he was killed by enemy combatants.
The Army initially claimed that the unit was ambushed near the Pakistani border, but subsequent investigations later revealed that he was the victim of friendly fire. An Afghan Militia Force allied soldier was killed in the incident and Tillman's platoon leader and another soldier were also wounded.
A Criminal Investigation Command report from 2007 described the incident, explaining that Tillman's portion of his platoon had backtracked to give fire support to the platoon's other half, which had been ambushed.
Tillman would be used in Operation Iraqi Freedom, but was later returned to Afghanistan in 2004, where it was originally reported that he was killed by enemy combatants
Media outlets republished original reporting of Tillman's life on the anniversary of his death
'[Tillman's portion of the platoon] dismounted their vehicles and moved on foot, to a more advantageous position to provide overwatch and fire support for [the other portion's] movement out of the ambush,' the report read. 'Upon exiting the gorge, and despite attempts by [Tillman's portion of the platoon] to signal a 'friendly position', occupants of the lead vehicle of [the other portion] opened fire on Tillman's position, where he was fatally shot.'
However, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press in 2007, Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Tillman's forehead and failed to persuade authorities to investigate whether his death