Ex-Football Star Killed in Afghanistan - Official

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former U.S. professional football star Pat Tillman (news), who gave up a $3.6 million sports contract to join the military's elite special forces, has been killed in a firefight in Afghanistan , a U.S. official said on Friday.

The official, who asked not to be identified, said Tillman was killed on Thursday. The 27-year-old soldier abruptly quit his National Football League career following the 2002 season and joined the Army a year after the attacks on America.

Enlisting with his brother Kevin in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center, Tillman turned down a $3.6 million contract from the Arizona Cardinals to become an Army Ranger for an annual salary of $18,000.

The 5-foot-11, 200-pound Tillman played for five seasons with the Cardinals from 1998 to 2002.

He was selected by Arizona with the 226th pick of the 1998 draft -- the league only selects 241 players -- but the Arizona State University star emerged from training camp as the Cardinals' starting strong safety on defense.

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