Aaron Simpson went to Arizona State with NFL player and Army Ranger Pat Tillman. Simpson became friends with Pat's brother Kevin, and Pat and Kevin would come to wrestling meets to support Simpson and the other Sun Devil wrestlers.
"I can remember exactly where I was when I found out Pat was killed, and how I handled it, which wasn't good," Simpson told Cagewriter. To honor Tillman and his legacy, Simpson will wear the number 42 on his fight shorts for his bout with Kenny Robertson at UFC on Fuel 4.
"I want people who don't know him to at least give notice to who he was. Look him up. Honor his family, his wife, and bring more viewership to his foundation, the Pat Tillman Foundation."
Tillman surprised the sporting world when left a promising and lucrative NFL career with the Arizona Cardinals to become an Army Ranger after the September 11th attacks. He was killed in a friendly fire incident in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004.
He went to high school in the San Jose area, where Simpson's fight will take place. It seemed like the perfect time for Simpson to honor Tillman. Kevin agreed.
"I texted Kevin, and he said, 'Pat would really appreciate it. Pat would have loved this,'" Simpson said.
"He didn't want to be known for what he did in serving the military. He was the kind of guy that wasn't about himself or bringing recognition to himself or what he did. He was a team player. I don't want to make too big. In a way, it's a kind of personal thing. I just want to remember him."
The Pat Tillman Foundation gives scholarships to military families. Support them here.