Chris Norwell, a former defensive tackle and four-year starter at Illinois, was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins lymphoma cancer.
It hit little brother Andrew Norwell as hard as expected.
It also inspired his play on the football field.
"I work hard for him," Norwell said. "He tells me he lives for me. I was playing for him. He's someone I look up to."
This past fall, Norwell, a 6-foot-6, 270-pound, class-of-2010, five-star offensive tackle at Cincinnati (Ohio) Anderson, played passionately and helped lead his team back to the state championship contest for the second year in a row.
Doctors caught Chris Norwell's cancer in the very early stages. After getting released by the Minnesota Vikings, Norwell had hernia surgery where the problem was sighted.
With aggressive treatment, Andrew now has his older brother at home with the cancer now in remission.
"He's been a big role model for me and I've always looked up to him," Norwell said. Anderson won the state championship his sophomore year. "Now he can help me with everything regarding the recruiting process. It's good to have an older brother that went through that already."
As of Wednesday, Norwell now has another program to talk about and evaluate with his brother.
Irish assistant coach John Tenuta personally dropped off what was Norwell's eighth scholarship offer. Norwell said it came on an impressive piece of gold paper.
"I just like the football program, and how it has a lot of tradition to it," Norwell said.
"I always watched Rudy growing up. I know a little bit about it. The 11 national titles they've won."
Norwell also holds scholarship offers from Ohio State, Stanford, Cincinnati, Duke, Indiana, Illinois and Louisville, and has established an early leader.
"Ohio State is at the top of my list right now," Norwell said. "Just the people and coaching staff up there, I really like atmosphere around there.
"I'm just looking at schools right now, going to take some visits, and I'll probably make a decision in the spring time."
Norwell has to check his basketball schedule, but he is hoping to visit Notre Dame for the first time on January 24th, when the Irish host their first junior day. He is also looking forward to talking with head coach Charlie Weis in the near future.
"I guess coach Weis had knee replacement surgery, so I didn't get a chance to talk to him."
Norwell has already taken visits to Ohio State, Illinois and Cincinnati. Other than Notre Dame's junior day, no other trips are currently on the radar.
Notre Dame has been by Norwell's school a few times, and they've been blunt about why they like him.
"They like my style of play," Norwell said. "I like to play aggressive and I like to finish plays. I go to the whistle every play."
Especially when Norwell is playing for someone else.