Sister's fight is never far from Bresee's mind, body

Sister's fight is never far from Bresee's mind, body

Football

Sister's fight is never far from Bresee's mind, body

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After using a marker and some tape to show his support last year, Bryan Bresee decided to get something more permanent.

Bresee’s right forearm has some new artwork since he last suited up for the Tigers. Near his wrist are tattooed the Roman numerals of his sister’s birthday. Above that is a rose wrapped by a ribbon with two words etched on it: Ella Strong.

It’s a reference to Ella Bresee, the youngest of the four Bresee children. It’s been a challenging last 18 months for the family as a whole with Bryan spending the last 10 recovering from a torn ACL that cut his sophomore season short, but it pales in comparison to the cards his 15-year-old sister was been dealt.

The family received shocking news early last year when Ella was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. She spent much of the year bouncing around different hospitals for treatment, including chemotherapy. 

“She’s my little sister but also a little girl who just has so much on her plate right now,” Bryan said. “So whatever I’m going through isn’t half as bad as what she’s going through.”

One of the most difficult pills to swallow for Bryan was not having Ella around last season. He normally makes it a point before every game to survey the stands and find his parents and sisters, who have regularly attended his games. But that routine was broken last year as Ella’s treatments kept her from supporting her brother in person.

So Bresee supported her from afar.

In the season opener against Georgia, the Tigers’ star defensive tackle wore turf tape on the back of his arms with words “Ella Strong” written on them. He sported it every game until he suffered his season-ending knee injury against North Carolina State in late September.

This summer, he got the ink that will always be there to remind him of the battle his sister is fighting.

“It just tells you to keep going,” Bryan said.

Bryan said Ella is doing well, all things considered. She will soon begin another round of chemo at a Washington D.C.-area hospital, but she felt well enough last month to make the trip to Clemson for head coach Dabo Swinney’s annual Ladies Clinic, which raises money for breast cancer.

Ella was the event’s honored guest, receiving a roaring applause from those in attendance, including her brother. It was an understandably emotional moment for Bryan.

“She loves Clemson,” Bryan said. “And for her to be back here and just see everybody, all my roommates and teammates, she loves it. So it was a really good moment.”

Bryan said Ella is set to attend Clemson’s home opener against Furman next month. And he won’t be the only one eagerly awaiting her return.

“Being with her at the Ladies Clinic and just seeing her spirit and her joy in the moment, it was inspiring,” Swinney said. “She’s definitely someone that I pray for every day and their family.  I know our team really is praying for her as well. Keeping our arms around Bryan and lifting him up as he navigates what he’s trying to do on a daily basis but also be there to support his sister.”

Dear Old Clemson has added to the store posters signed by all 20 members of Clemson’s 2022 football class.

Now there is a new way you can support Clemson student-athletes. Purchase collectibles from Dear Old Clemson and the proceeds with go to support Clemson student-athletes. Visit Dear Old Clemson to find out how you can help!

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