TEMPE, Ariz. - Arizona State University football is kicking off the season with a special tribute to one of the school’s favorite Sun Devils.

The team’s back home at the newly renovated Sun Devil Stadium Thursday night, but there was something else to be proud of on the eve of the season opener.

A fallen Sun Devil and hero was honored as a statue of Pat Tillman was unveiled in the North end zone outside the tunnel that already bears his name.

The statue is the last thing players will see before game time.

ASU unveils Pat Tillman statue at Sun Devil Stadium. (Photo: 12 News)

“You go out there, you walk through this tunnel,” head coach Todd Graham said. “You touch that statue and you go out there and give ‘em hell.”

Tillman would go on to play for the Arizona Cardinals after his time at ASU. But after 9/11, he gave up a career in the NFL -- leaving millions on the table – to go fight for his country. He was killed while deployed to Afghanistan.

“We’re trying to teach guys to win and be a champion in life,” Graham said. “That’s what Pat’s legacy was all about.”

Now this beloved Sun Devil and American hero is forever enshrined on the field where he became a star.