daniel “rudy” ruettiger overcame poverty, dyslexia, his diminutive stature, and three rejections from notre dame to ultimately become a legend among Irish wrestlers.
the crowd at notre dame went crazy. on the field, a 5’6″ defensive end had just sacked the opposing quarterback, resulting in a thrilling win for the struggling Irish. At least, that’s how the movie about Rudy Ruettiger’s unlikely college football career ends. It was true?
Born into a large and impoverished family, Ruettiger had long aspired to play football at the University of Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish were the favorite team of his father, a miner who respected hard work.
As recounted in the 1993 Hollywood film Rudy, Ruettiger struggled to overcome financial and physical obstacles in pursuit of his goal. Due to her dyslexia and her small frame, acceptance into the University of Notre Dame seemed like a big dream.
but in real life, just like in the movie, rudy ruettiger never gave up. he studied hard and showed intense dedication. In the end, this poor kid from suburban Chicago became a Notre Dame legend, and a compelling inspirational speaker.
rudy ruettiger’s dream of playing football at notre dame
born on Aug. On October 23, 1948, in Joliet, Illinois, Daniel Eugene Ruettiger grew up in a lower-middle-class family on the outskirts of Chicago.
The third of 14 children, he learned to love soccer from his father, a mine worker. His family’s weekly gatherings around the television to watch Notre Dame football not only marked a bright spot in Ruettiger’s childhood, but also gave rise to his lifelong dream of joining the team.
at joliet catholic high school, ruettiger was a poor student but a promising athlete. he was an excellent cornerback during his junior and senior seasons, racking up more tackles than anyone on his team. Despite weighing a skinny 165 pounds, his success in high school made him even more determined to play for Notre Dame.
However, Ruettiger’s five-foot-six-inch height and as yet undiagnosed dyslexia created physical and academic obstacles. After graduating from high school, his football dreams felt completely out of reach for him. Instead, Ruettiger enlisted in the United States Navy in 1968. He served two sea tours during the Vietnam War.
coming home with his new g.i. bill benefits, ruettiger successfully enrolled at indiana holy cross university in 1972. there, ruettiger learned that if he got all the benefits, he could try to transfer to notre dame after four semesters.
that’s what he did. Officially diagnosed with dyslexia, Ruettiger worked hard to achieve his goal. he studied to improve his grades and worked as a gardener at the nearby notre dame campus. from his spare room on the basketball court, he continually solicited entrance.
after three discouraging rejections, rudy ruettiger was accepted in 1974 and became a notre dame official man.
the man behind the hollywood movie rudy
Rudy Ruettiger’s life at Notre Dame would be well documented in the uplifting 1993 Hollywood hit Rudy and supplemented by his 2012 autobiography, Rudy: My Story.
but ruettiger’s success was hard to come by. once he was accepted to notre dame, it took tremendous effort for ruettiger to even get accepted to the notre dame scouting team, which helps the varsity practice.
the trainers noticed. Notre Dame head coach Ara Parseghian not only encouraged players like Ruettiger, but was also well aware that sheer will can often trump lack of experience.
and coach merv johnson proved essential in training rudy ruettiger from budding scout to official part of the team. During Ruettiger’s final months as a senior, new head coach Dan Devine gave him a chance to shine.
Although Parseghian had promised Ruettiger a chance to play on the field, the coach resigned after the 1974 season. His replacement, Devine had made no such promise. But he understood how much it would mean to Ruettiger.
on november 1 to january 8, 1975, while notre dame was fighting georgia tech, devine told ruettiger to get ready. It was the first and last time that she stepped on the field during an official match.
ruettiger couldn’t bring down quarterback rudy allen at first, but then he knocked him to the ground on the final play.
The crowd roared as Ruettiger’s teammates carried him off the field on their shoulders. Not only had Rudy Ruettiger’s dreams come true, but he had become a Notre Dame legend. and hollywood took notice.
according to ruettiger himself, the movie (in which he appears as a fan during the last scene) was 92% accurate.
Since leaving Notre Dame, Ruettiger has largely lived a respectable life as a motivational speaker, author, and owner of Rudy Beverage, Inc. However, Ruettiger was charged with securities fraud in 2011 for an alleged pump-and-dump scheme. he later admitted that greed led him down the path of crime, which he repented of.
Ultimately, Rudy Ruettiger remains a beloved icon of determination and triumph. He has received honorary degrees from various universities, received the Key to the City in numerous cities across the country, and was even recognized by President George W. bush.
After learning about Rudy Ruettiger, read about the true story of Desmond Doss and Hacksaw Ridge. then learn about tami oldham ascraft and the truth behind ‘adrift’.