PHOENIX (KSAZ) - It's been 14 years since the world lost a hero.
In 2002, Pat Tillman walked away from a multi-million dollar NFL contract with the Arizona Cardinals to enlist in the Army. Then in 2004, he died on patrol in Afghanistan by friendly fire.
While his legacy lives on throughout the Pat Tillman Foundation and Pat's Run, when it came time to rename Balsz Elementary School, Principal Dr. Chad Smith says it was an obvious choice to honor the fallen hero.
"When we got to Pat Tillman as a name, it all clicked, it all made perfect sense," he said.
Dr. Smith says Balsz Elementary School is currently K-eighth grade, and with their new name, will transition into a middle school serving sixth, seventh, and eighth graders.
"What people forget about Pat is that he was a scholar and that he was an amazing man that cared about education and learning and was inquisitive," he said.
Along with the new name, Pat Tillman Middle School will combine a traditional curriculum with an emphasis on elective offerings, stem program, and elite sports training.
These are all things Pat himself would approve of.
"He's the guy we want make sure that his character and dedication and passion and loyalty and commitment are things we want our kids to learn here at Pat Tillman Middle School," Dr. Smith said.