Pat Tillman Rookie-Year Impala Is Helping Veterans
1968 convertible has been restored as a tribute to the celebrated military veteran and sports star and will be sold at auction in 2019 to aid veterans.
Pat Tillman was an NFL player that famously left his career behind to serve his country. It’s an incredible story of selfless bravery and tragedy that has since immortalized Tillman as a true American hero.
After being drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in 1998, Tilman and his teammate Zack Walz decided to celebrate by buying a slick 1968 Chevy Impala, which they promptly turned into a party machine by taking off the convertible top and filling it with an audio system. Following Tillman’s death in 2004 at age 27, Walz left the car in a garage.
Recently though, through mutual friends, Walz was put in touch with Ronald Ross, a Vietnam veteran who restores cars to sell at charity auctions that support veterans services. Walz offered the car to Ross, and the restoration began.
Ross turned the ’68 Chevy Impala into a tribute to Tillman. For that, he brought in airbrush artist Mickey Harris.
A rolling work of art, the finished Tillman tribute was recently displayed at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas. Currently, the unique Impala is on a national tour. Then, next year, it will be in Arizona for a golf tournament before it’s sold at the 2019 Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction. Proceeds will benefit the Pat Tillman Foundation.
Tillman’s Tale: The Story Behind the Impala Tribute
Pat Tillman first came to prominence as a linebacker for Arizona State University’s Sun Devils. He helped his team go undefeated in his junior year and was honored as the Pac-10 defensive player of the year in 1997.
His football career didn’t come at the expense of his education though. He reportedly graduated college with a 3.85 grade-point average.
In 1998, Tillman was drafted into the National Football League by the Arizona Cardinals.
Later, and out of loyalty to his team, he turned down a $9 million contract offer from the St. Louis Rams. Following the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center,Tillman gave up his career and enlisted in the U.S. Army.
The same day, his younger brother, Kevin Tillman, enlisted as well. He had signed a contract to play baseball for the Cleveland Indians but shared his brother’s convictions. They both became Army Rangers and Pat Tillman was redeployed to Afghanistan. There, he was killed by what was later shown to be friendly fire.
Following his death, Tillerson’s widow was part of a group that set up the Pat Tillman Foundation. One of its core missions is to help veterans by helping provide funds for a college education.