Blue and Gold Illustrated

August 2022

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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38 AUGUST 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY TYLER HORKA On the inside of CJ Carr's right wrist, the one that has afforded him the op- portunity to play football at the Univer- sity of Notre Dame, are four letters in thick, black ink. They'll be there for as long as he lives, an ode to a loved one who's living no longer — physically. Spiritually, he hasn't gone anywhere. All CJ has to do is turn the palm he flings footballs with upward to see him. To remember him. Chad. The tattoo, complete with a cross, memorializes the name of CJ's younger brother, the "funniest kid in the fam- ily." The kid who might have shown up to CJ's commitment ceremony on June 9 wearing USC Trojans gear when his older brother pledged to play for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. That's who Chad Carr was, a jovial prankster who loved to share a laugh, all in good fun, until the day diffuse intrin- sic pontine glioma, the scientific term for an inoperable brain tumor more com- monly referred to as DIPG, took his life on Nov. 23, 2015. He was diagnosed ex- actly 14 months prior on Sept. 23, 2014. CJ was 10 when he laid his little brother to rest. Chad was 5. "He always understood where this was going," said Tammi Carr, CJ's mother. "He watched his brother fade and lose one thing after the next." TAKING NOTHING FOR GRANTED CJ hadn't started playing competitive football when Chad first got ill, but the sport was already religion for the Carrs. CJ's paternal grandfather, Lloyd Carr, was the head coach at Michigan from 1995- 2007. He led the Wolverines to their most recent national championship in 1997. His maternal grandfather, Tom Curtis, was an All-American safety and College Football Hall of Famer for U-M from 1967-69. Tammi went to Michigan. It's where she met her husband, Jason, a former Michi- gan quarterback from 1992-95. The family spent many fall Saturdays watching the Wolverines. Chad always seemed to steal the show. "Chad would be like, 'I like Ohio State, I like Alabama, I like Michigan State,'" Tammi said. "And he would do it to get us worked up. We'd play it up and act like it was funny. We joke that he's up there in heaven just chuckling that his brother chose a rival. He would love it." In a way, Chad is responsible for that choice. T h ro u g h h i s b ro t h e r 's g r u e l i n g 14-month battle with DIPG, CJ learned there's more to life than Ann Arbor, Mich. He's entering his junior year as the starting quarterback for Saline High School, which is situated less than seven miles south of Michigan Stadium. The Big House. Maize and blue is all CJ has ever known. His talent as a quarterback pros- pect would have been accepted with open arms right up the road. He's the No. 4 QB and No. 31 prospect in the country in the class of 2024 according to the On3. Num- bers like that open the door to plenty of other possibilities, though. CJ went through the door because his little brother doesn't have the same luxury anymore. He's carving his own path. It's what Chad would have done. "I'm not taking anything for granted because of the experiences we had with Chad," CJ said. "What his legacy will con- tinue to show is don't take your time here for granted. You only have so much of it." THE RIGHT DECISION The Notre Dame coaching staff had much to do with CJ's decision to go against the family tradition. It wasn't all a divine diversion. CJ gave credit to head coach Mar- cus Freeman and offensive coordinator Tommy Rees for creating and main- taining the type of relationship it takes to court a player of his caliber, a player who isn't the average 17-year-old. "In a lot of ways it has helped him be- come the person he is because he grew up fast," Tammi said. "He went through something a child should never have to experience. It gave him another perspec- tive on life, on not sweating the small stuff and not worrying what other people think about him and following his heart." Tammi and Jason worried CJ wouldn't ever get to this point. When Chad passed, their attention immediately turned to CJ and Tommy, CJ's other brother two years COMMITMENT PROFILE CJ CARR Memory Of Late Brother Drives Four-Star Quarterback Carr is a Michigan legacy, but he's ready to write his own story at Notre Dame. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER

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