Marie Tillman Widowed after NFL's Pat Tillman Tragically Died In Afghanistan — Facts about Her

Oyin Balogun
Apr 24, 2021
09:30 A.M.
Share this pen

Marie Tillman endured indescribable pain for a long time following the death of her husband, Pat Tillman. These days, many have seen her channel her energy into immense productivity in society.


Marie Tillman became famous after she went through the tragedy of losing her husband, Pat Tillman. The late Pat enlisted in the army following the 9/11 occurrence. However, Marie received terrible news in 2004 when it was reported that her husband was killed in Afghanistan. 

Marie was thrown into grief, completely withdrawing from the public. However, her comeback has been recorded as one of the most motivating success stories. Here are some facts about Marie Tillman and how she held on to optimism. 

Marie Tillman at The 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles | Photo: Getty Images



The initial news was that Pat died in a crossfire, but later it was confirmed that it was a friendly fire that caused his death. He was in the 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan. Pat's life ended, but his legacy continued through his widow.

Pat declined a multi-million-dollar deal from the Cardinals. He and his younger brother, Kevin, signed up to be in the army.

Marie Tillman during an appearance on "Today" on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 | Photo: Getty Images


Following her husband's death, Marie plunged into the limelight, determined that Pat's legacy would live on. She became the co-founder of the Pat Tillman Foundation.

The non-profit focused on providing education for veterans who wanted to continue their service to humanity through other means. The Pat Tillman Foundation sponsored colleges and different higher levels of education. 

Pat Tillman #40 of the Arizona Cardinals during a game against the Oakland Raiders at the Sun Devil Stadium October 4 1998 | Photo: Getty Images



Three years after Pat died, Marie opted for anonymity and moved to New York City, where she got a job at the production and event department of ESPN. She kept a low profile because she feared public speaking, but this gradually faded. 


Marie wrote a memoir, "The Letter," released in 2012. In it, the entrepreneur detailed the years of grief and how Pat's last letter to her kept her going for a long time. 

Marie wrote of how three army officers were at her office, and she immediately knew that she was a widow at 27. She had dreaded opening Pat's letter for a long time until the night of his death.


Marie Tillman attends the 2019 ESPY Awards at Microsoft Theater on July 10, 2019 in Los Angeles | Photo: Getty Images

She relayed in her memoir that Pat wrote about his love for her and his passion for service. The late NFL star addressed his wife, encouraging her to live. Pat lost his life three weeks after joining the army.



This is a 4.2-mile run or walk that takes place every April in honor of the late Arizona football player's legacy and passion for service. Funds are also raised during the event for the foundation.  

Marie Tillman at the 2017 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 12, 2017 in Los Angeles | Photo: Getty Images



In a candid 2018 write-up, Marie Tillman shared her opinion on the recent development in sports -- bending a knee in solidarity against injustice. She noted that some people were manipulating Pat's legacy to negate taking a knee.

She came out to mention that she would never get to know her late spouse's take on racial injustice and prejudice but pointed out that his legacy should not be political. 

Marie pointed out that Pat should be remembered for the sacrifices he made rather than what his opinion would have been about NFL protests on racial issues.


Marie Tillman attends the GQ Gentleman's Ball 2009 at The Edison Ballroom on October 28, 2009 | Photo: Getty Images


Marie Tillman later married Joe Shenton, and they presently have five kids together. Becoming a mom further expanded her passion for service to the community.



The public figure became a working mom and found out how demanding parenting could get. This prompted her to create Mac & Mia, a company centered on children's clothing.

Marie Tillman attends the 2010 National Football Foundation & College Hall Of Fame Inc Press Conference on December 7, 2010 | Photo: Getty Images



Pat, a California native, was the oldest of three sons. He had a fine NFL career that started in college and after graduation, he was drafted into the NFL and later joined the Arizona Cardinals.

Pat was his team's starting safety and linebacker, and with time, he became popular, breaking the team record for tackles in 2000. However, following 9/11, he decided to join the army.

Jason Bateman and Marie Tillman attend a cocktail party for the Pat Tillman Foundation on October 8, 2009 | Photo: Getty Images


At the time, Pat declined a multi-million-dollar deal from the Cardinals. He and his younger brother, Kevin, signed up to be in the army. After his death, his parents sued authorities for painting their son as the heroic poster boy. 

Investigations followed this claim and the authorities in charge found inaccuracies in the army's initial report of Pat dying in an ambush. Those involved in fabricating the information about his death were ultimately relieved of their jobs.  

Advertisement does not support or promote any kind of violence, self-harm, or abusive behavior. We raise awareness about these issues to help potential victims seek professional counseling and prevent anyone from getting hurt. speaks out against the above mentioned and advocates for a healthy discussion about the instances of violence, abuse, sexual misconduct, animal cruelty, abuse etc. that benefits the victims. We also encourage everyone to report any crime incident they witness as soon as possible.