Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Brotherly Love Pushes Hughes to NFL Dream: Signs with Bears

It's not the fact that former Notre Dame running back Robert Hughes signed with his hometown Chicago Bears - that is just icing on the cake in comparison to what Hughes has been through in his young life thus far.

A touching remembrance of Robert Hughes' journey to college and now fulfilling his NFL dream is shared by the Chicago Sun-Times. Paraphrasing would do a disservice as the entire article is worth the read but, in essence, Hughes was motivated by his late brother, Earl "Tony" Hughes.

On October 31, 2007 Tony was fatally shot in the head outside of his home after answering the door. To this day the killer is still at large and Hughes family remains shaken. Determined as ever, Robert returned to practice the following day, though he was certainly not his usual chipper self.

Charlie Weis, head coach at the time, arranged for all of Hughes' teammates to travel with him and be by his side at his brother's funeral the Friday of that same week. People give Weis a hard time for being a 'jerk' and 'arrogant', but deep down he really is a compassionate and good man. Here is an excerpt from the article linked above:
Weis has been one of the most supportive members of the staff since the murder. He drove Hughes to Chicago Thursday night to talk with the player's family and offer consolation. He also jumped through NCAA hoops to get two buses to take any players that wanted to go to Tony's funeral there.
Tragedy aside, Hughes returned to play that weekend as Notre Dame took on the Naval Academy. He remarkably scored the game's first touchdown and proceed to give the ball to his family. His efforts to honor his brother would continue from that day throughout the rest of his career (he was only a freshman at the time) by pointing to the sky in remembrance of Tony after scoring plays.

You can see his emotional touchdown from the Navy game around the 0:30 mark in the video below that captures his career highlights under the dome.

Hughes came on strong towards the end of the season in games against Army, USC, and Miami. He reminded many of former Irish tailback Jerome Bettis as he bruised his way over and through helpless defenders.

His contributions at the Coliseum helped the Irish end an eight-game losing streak against arch-rival USC. Watch his efforts during the final drive to put the Irish on top for good.

This certainly is another in a long list of 'feel good' stories in sports. Congratulations to Robert and his family!

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