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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 April, 2004, 01:11 GMT 02:11 UK
Ex-NFL star dies in action
Pat Tillman, pictured playing for Arizona in 1998
Tillman in action for the Cardinals in 1998
Former Arizona Cardinals safety Pat Tillman has died in action while serving with the US Army Rangers in Afghanistan.

Following the terrorist attacks of 11 September, 2001, Tillman gave up a three-year contract worth $3.6m to serve his country.

"In sports, we tend to use the words 'courage' and 'bravery' and 'heroes,' then someone like Pat Tillman comes along and reminds us what those words really mean," said Cardinals vice president Michael Bidwill.

Tillman was reportedly on a mission in Afghanistan, where the Rangers were responsible for mopping up the remnants of Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces.

He was an achiever and leader on many levels
NFL boss Paul Tagliabue
His unit worked in rugged circumstances, often fending off ambushes and avoiding road-side bombings.

"Pat Tillman personified all the best values of his country and the NFL," commissioner Paul Tagliabue said in a statement.

"He was an achiever and leader on many levels who always put his team, his community, and his country ahead of his personal interests."

Tillman - along with his brother, Kevin, a minor league pitcher - gave up millions of dollars to join the Army for $18,000 a year.

Last year, the Tillman siblings were given ESPN's Arthur Ashe Courage Award, but they sent their younger brother to accept it, choosing to remain outside the spotlight.



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