Honoring Pat Tillman

#42.

It’s more than a number for Pat Murphy.

For years, he wore jersey #42. It’s in his email address, his Twitter handle. In his current role as Manager of the AAA El Paso Chihuahas, it’s unavailable: all Major League and Minor League clubs have retired the number in honor of Jackie Robinson.

“I have a ton of respect for Jackie Robinson but my #42 is Pat Tillman.”

As the tenth anniversary of Pat’s death loomed, Murphy reflected on his legacy and ongoing relationship with the Tillman family.

Both Patricks showed up to the Arizona State University campus in August 1994; Tillman as a walk-on freshman linebacker and Murphy as the newly-hired head baseball coach.

“(Tillman) was hanging around our team; he came to practices,” said Murphy, an avid college football fan who watched Tillman develop into one of the nation’s best defensive players.

“I remember in the Nebraska game (a 19-0 upset over the #1-ranked Huskers) I was under the goalposts; Scott Frost was the QB at Nebraska. He couldn’t hear the signals. I remember Pat just smiling like ‘This is gonna be a long night for you, buddy.’

“Pat’s the one who said to me ‘Hey, I got a brother who’s a pretty good ballplayer.’ I told him if he’s anything like you, we’ll take him.”

Pat’s brother Kevin played for Murphy from 1997-1999.

Like many who knew him, the idea that Pat Tillman’s passing was 10 years ago is hard to believe. Murphy recalls vividly how he learned the horrible news.

“We were in a hotel in Pullman. I was in the hotel lobby. My media come person came up and told me. It was just a surreal feeling of overwhelming grief and sadness. He was a great example. What a testament to what it’s all about; he followed his dream. Stood up for what he believed in. He’s a great example for many people.”

Over the years, Murphy has maintained contact with Pat’s family and a close relationship with Kevin.

“He’s got two beautiful children. The way he lives his life is pretty awesome,” said Murphy.

Kevin Tillman and Pat Murphy

Kevin Tillman and Pat Murphy

“The family doesn’t like the attention. They wouldn’t use Pat’s name for anything. They’re intelligent class people who are extremely courageous – I see them still trying to have a positive impact on others.”

Murphy’s son Kai was just a toddler when Tillman passed away.

“i teach him about what made Pat special,” says Murphy.

“His ability to make a decision and not get any credit for it, to do something he felt was right because he wanted to make a difference and not be known for it; he just wanted to do it. He exemplified what it means to be a person of character.”

Asked what he thinks #42 would be doing if he were still alive, Murphy ponders the possibilities, from football to to philanthrophy to fatherhood, pauses and states simply:

“It would’ve been impactful.”

 

Learn more about Pat through the Pat Tillman Foundation.

One Response to “Honoring Pat Tillman”

  1. tigon says:

    Do you know?Pat Tillman’s death remembered 10 years later–>http://www.funnytrendstoday.com/2014/04/pat-tillmans-death-remembered-10-years.html

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