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Mary Tillman, mother of NFL player and Army ranger killed in Afghanistan, to speak at CSUEB


Mary Tillman

  • October 1, 2013

Mary Tillman, who has taken her family’s efforts public for nearly a decade to find out the truth about the death of her son, Army Ranger Pat Tillman, in Afghanistan, will speak Nov. 18 at California State University, East Bay. Pat Tillman gave up his career as a star player in the National Football League after the 9/11 attacks to join the Army.

Tillman’s presentation, sponsored by CSUEB’s Center for Sport and Social Justice (CSSJ) and the Department of Kinesiology, will begin at 6:30 p.m. in room 1203 of the Arts and Education building on Cal State East Bay’s Hayward Campus, 25800 Carlos Bee Blvd. Admission is free, and the public is invited.

Mary Tillman is co-author, with journalist Narda Zacchino, of “Boots on the Ground by Dusk: My Tribute to Pat Tillman,” published in 2008 by Rodale Inc.

Her CSUEB talk will focus on her and the Tillman family’s efforts to learn the truth about the cause of death of the former Arizona Cardinal safety, who was killed at 27 in 2004 after tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Army Special Operations Command initially claimed that Tillman and his unit were attacked in an apparent ambush on a road outside of the village of Sperah, near the Pakistan border. Then the story changed after his burial, with investigations by the Department of Defense and U.S. Congress determining that his death was caused by friendly fire. Through the efforts of the Tillman family, several investigations have followed to seek the truth around both the circumstances of Pat Tillman’s death and to acknowledge and hold accountable those responsible for his death. Mary Tillman concedes that this may never come.

“There was an attack or ambush, but Pat was killed by his own troops,” Mary Tillman said.

“Mary Tillman is generally a very private person, but she has become very public in order to force the U.S. military to tell the truth about how her son was killed,” said Rita Liberti, CSSJ director and a Cal State East Bay kinesiology professor. “Mary Tillman continues this public role in sharing Pat’s story as a way to support and assist other military families whose loved ones have been killed in similar circumstances.”

The goal of Cal State East Bay’s Center for Sport and Social Justice is the encouragement and dissemination of political discussion and action around sport, including race, class, gender and disability.

This event can be viewed live online, as it will be streamed via Pioneer Web TV at

Further information about the Nov. 18 event, as well as the Center for Sport and Social Justice, is available by contacting Liberti at or by calling (510) 885-3050. Or visit the Center for Sport and Social Justice online

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