Arizona might boast natural treasures such as the Grand Canyon and Saguaro National Park, but it’s also produced many famous inspirational people over the years. From poets to politicians, Arizona has played host to a variety of well-known figures since its statehood in 1912.
Whether they were born here or were just happy to call Arizona home for part of their lives, these people worked to make a difference in whatever way they could. Here are just 4 of the inspiring Arizonans that have made the world a better place.
Pat Tillman was a former NFL player who chose to forego his football career to enlist in the United States Military. He played football for Arizona State University before being drafted by the Arizona Cardinals.
After 9/11, Tillman abandoned his successful career in the NFL to fight in Afghanistan. He served as an Army Ranger in both Afghanistan and Iraq before tragically losing his life on one of his tours. Tillman is truly a classic, modern example of a great American hero.
Born in Phoenix, Lynda Carter is best known for her role as Wonder Woman in the 1975 TV series of the same name. Although the character was portrayed with a skimpy costume, Carter was adamant about playing the role with a feminist twist, inspiring women and girls nationwide to be their own superheroes. She was determined to be the kind of character that women would want to be friends with rather than jealous of, and to this day, she is the most well-known actress to hold the role of Wonder Woman.
Carter is an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights along with pro-choice rights for women. She also supports Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Chester Bennington was the lead singer of the band Linkin Park. He tragically lost his life to suicide in 2017 after a long battle with mental health issues. In 2004, Chester and his bandmates founded Music for Relief, a charity organization that raises money for the survivors of global catastrophes such as tsunamis or earthquakes.
Over the years, his music has been a comfort to others suffering from mental illness and his death sparked a conversation about depression and suicide that has brought awareness to the struggle faced by many. The Music for Relief foundation lives on even after his untimely death.
Sandra Day O’Connor
Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman ever to be appointed to the Supreme Court. While she wasn’t born in Arizona, she did live out a large portion of her life there; before her tenure on the national Supreme Court, she served as assistant Attorney General of Arizona as well as a judge on the Arizona Supreme Court.
She faced much opposition to her Supreme Court nomination but persevered. After her retirement from the Court, she became a vocal advocate of Alzheimer’s research. She lives in Phoenix to this day.
Arizona has been home to many incredible, influential people over the years. While these 4 folks were just the tip of the iceberg, we hope that their stories inspire you to help make a difference in your community in whatever way you can.