Leland (San Jose, Calif.)
High School honored one of its own on Friday – its most famous and decorated, the late Pat Tillman.
The inaugural Pat Tillman Legacy Classic took place and beyond the game – Castro Valley defeated Leland 22-21 – the event honored the former collegiate and NFL great, and war hero.
Tillman gave up his NFL career to serve for the U.S. Army in Afghanistan, where he died in 2004.
Not only was the stadium decorated in red, white and blue but members of the Leland 1993 football squad, which Tillman played, were also on hand. Dignitaries were present as well, including former 49ers Ronnie Lott and Brent Jones, the latter who played with Tillman.
"I still get chills when I think about Pat Tillman," Jones told San Jose Mercury News staff writer Mark Emmons
. "So much is know about Pat as a football player and his military service, but he also was just a great human being who cared about people."
Leland coach Mike Carrozzo has been organizing this event for months and by all accounts, it was a moving and successful event.
"It's one we will continue to build on for years to come," Carrozzo told us in the spring. "We want to keep Pat's memory alive forever. He is a vital part of this community and always will be."
Lott told Emmons: "There are rare people in life who just have this spirit and qualities that you respect. Pat had them and he lived by them. Those are the kinds of things you want these kids to see because our country needs more of that."
Leland senior Travis McCurdy
told Emmons that his entire team has embraced Tillman's spirit: "When we're on his field, we're there to play hard. That's exactly what he did."
Leland's stadium is named after Tillman.