Underdog Story of the Day - Rudy Ruettiger

Underdog Story of the Day - Rudy Ruettiger

Rudy Ruettiger

On August 23, 1948, Daniel Ruettiger was born in Joliet, Illinois as the third child out of 14 in his family.

He grew up in a lower-middle-class family, where his father battled to put food on the table every night, working at a local mine.

The one thing the whole family bonded over and loved dearly was the Notre Dame kick-off every weekend. Since this was a spark in Rudy's happiness growing up, Rudy dreamed of playing football for the Irish.

Your classic underdog, Rudy Ruettiger, weighed in at 165 lbs, standing at a whopping 5'6". He was a standout cornerback at Joilet Catholic Academy, but his size often caused schools to pass up on him, undervaluing his work ethic and determination to succeed. To make things even more difficult, his grades weren't very high and he suffered from dyslexia. Not only did people think he wouldn't play college football but they didn't even think he could get into a college because he wasn't smart enough.

It wasn't until his best friend, Pete, was killed in an industrial accident that Rudy decided to leave his hometown in pursuit of his dream.

He proved everyone wrong, completing two years at Holy Cross College. But his dream still wasn't fulfilled. He didn't just want to go to college, he wanted to play college football at the University of Notre Dame.

He never gave up or listened to people's negative opinions that they had of him. Rudy ended up taking a job as a stadium groundskeeper at Notre Dame. While he worked, he would walk the tunnels of Knute Rockne Stadium, motivating him to turn his dream into a reality. He lived in a spare room in the basketball court, living anxiously because he was running out of time to enroll at Notre Dame. They didn't accept senior transfers and after three prior attempts to get in, this was his last chance.

His fourth attempt Rudy finally got into his dream school. But, the battle didn't end there. He wasn't recruited into Notre Dame. He had to try to make the team as a walk-on. Despite the constant reminder that he couldn't play college football and that he was too small, Rudy made the team.

He didn't play until the last two plays of his college career. The first play he was stopped, but the second play he broke through the line of defenders and tackled the quarterback, ending the game. He was carried off the field on the shoulders of his teammates and his story lives on today.

WATCH: Rudy Ruettiger talks about his 27 seconds of fame


Plain and simple, Rudy shows us that persistent hard work can get us to reach any goal we set our minds to. As James A. Michener once said, "character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries." Rudy exemplifies this quote perfectly.  



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