Author, Rudy: My Story
Founder: The Rudy Foundation to help children around the world
Graduate, Notre Dame
Rudy in Real Life
The 700 Club
Rudy was one of 14 children and grew up in Joliet, Illinois. He attended Joliet Catholic High School where he played football. After graduation, Rudy joined the Navy for 4 years. He applied to Notre Dame but due to his marginal grades, he had to do early college work at Holy Cross College. After 2 years at Holy Cross, Rudy was accepted as a student at Notre Dame on his 4th try in 1974. During this time, Rudy discovered he had dyslexia. Rudy dreamed of playing for the Fighting Irish football team although he was only 5’ 6” and 165 pounds. Head Coach Ara Parseghian encouraged him to walk-on. After working as hard as possible and showing that he was willing to work as much as he needed to, Rudy made it on the scout team, the practice squad that helps the varsity team with practices. A new coach was named after the 1974 season and in November 1975, Coach Dan Devine put Rudy in the game as a defensive end against Georgia Tech. In the final play in the last 27 seconds of the game, Rudy recorded a sack. He was carried off the field by a group of his teammates after the game.
In 1993, Rudy’s life story became a movie and blockbuster motion picture. All of a sudden, he was invited to give pep talks all over America. Corporations asked him to speak to their sales staff. He was even invited to the White House for a private screen of Rudy. “Rudy became bigger than me,” says Rudy. Twenty years after the movie was made, people still tell Rudy about how they have been inspired by his life story. “I wasn’t some super-talented kid who rose up from nothing and beat the odds to make it to the Super Bowl,” says Rudy. “If I would have chased after football and academics, I would have never made it. It was a whole different story because I became a part of something.”
Rudy says what has learned over the years is that life is a journey. “A long journey. And the lessons never stop coming,” he says. People have the misconception that Rudy was born with more drive and more passion to accomplish his dreams than the average guy. “I am here to tell you that’s not true,” says Rudy. “I found my heart, my drive and my passion one step at a time, simply by growing up, making mistakes, learning from those mistakes, and pressing forward.” He says the only difference between those who reach their dreams and those who don’t may be a willingness to look at their mistakes and all of life’s obstacles from a different perspective. “Dream realistically,” he says. “Don’t dream foolishly. And remember it’s not your plan, it’s God’s.”
Rudy is a sought-after motivational speaker. He and his wife, Cheryl, founded Rudy International, a non-profit organization dedicated to the support and recognition of those who aspire to fulfill their dreams through character, courage, contribution and commitment. They develop and support programs that positively impact the lives of children cognitively, emotionally, physically and spiritually.
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