Whether we agree with it or not, younger sports fans idolize professional athletes, almost idolizing them as their heroes. But as we become adults, we realize that the real heroes are the ones who serve in the military, potentially risking their livelihoods – if not their lives – to protect our freedoms.
But then, there are those select few athletes who were “heroes” in both areas: both serving in the armed forces, and then going on to have distinguished careers as a professional athlete.
Here are 30 famous sports figures who also served in the United States Military.
Pat Tillman, U.S. Army
Perhaps the most well-known NFL player to serve in the U.S. Military, Patrick Tillman gave up his successful NFL playing career for military service. The former Cardinals safety enlisted in the Army Rangers with his brother Kevin in 2002.
On Tillman’s second tour of duty, in Afghanistan, he was killed in a friendly fire incident. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart, among several other military honors.
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