When he was in college, Taliesin Namkai-Meche took an introductory religion class on Islam and impressed his professor with a deep desire to understand how others see the world.
Rick Best spent years in Muslim countries as an Army platoon sergeant in Afghanistan and Iraq.
And Micah Fletcher won a Portland poetry competition in 2013 with an entry about prejudices faced by Muslims.
Those details, reported by the Oregonian newspaper, may help explain why the three men acted in a way that has much of Portland praising them as heroes.
Read the full story on LATimes.com.