Friend recalls Pat Tillman on 10th anniversary of death
PHOENIX -- It was 10 years ago Tuesday that NFL player turned Army solider Pat Tillman was killed in action in Afghanistan.
Tillman played an influential role in the lives of many, especially to those who knew him. Perry Edinger was Tillman's athletic trainer while Tillman studied at Arizona State University and remained close with him after his graduation. He said he was proud to have known Tillman.
"I feel honored to be known as one of Pat's friends," he said. "Because the people Pat hung out with and the people he was friends with, were all very good, very strong people."
Edinger said Tillman inspired him to be a better person and is part of the reason he now works with children at the Phoenix Children's Hospital doing pediatric orthopedics.
"He has helped me motivate myself to be a better person every day," he said. "Ten years later I still have that attitude."
It will be a quiet reflection for Edinger Tuesday and over the weekend. He said he will participate in Pat's Run in Tempe on Saturday.
Edinger said he cannot believe how quickly the 10 years has gone by, but said it has allowed those who knew Tillman to celebrate his life.
"There's a lot more smiles now than there were years ago," he said. "Less sad reflections, more happy reflections."
The passing of time is still is difficult for Edinger though, who said he wonders what Tillman would have done if he hadn't been killed.
"You don't lose that many memories of him, but you're just disappointed that he's been gone that long," he said. "The things that Pat might have been able to accomplish during these last 10 years might have been really something special."
Tillman was killed by friendly fire while serving in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004. Tillman's decision to leave professional football to enlist in the Army following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and his subsequent death in 2004 received much attention across Arizona and the U.S.