Saturday’s Tiger Walk was, in his words, “super special” for Bryan Bresee.
That’s because the Clemson football team used the Tiger Walk to show support for the redshirt sophomore defensive tackle, his younger sister and their family as they walk through an incredibly tough time right now.
Bresee led the Tiger Walk prior to Saturday’s home opener vs. Furman as he, head coach Dabo Swinney and the Tigers wore “E11a Strong” T-shirts to show support for Bresee’s sister, Ella, who is battling brain cancer.
“I wish my little sister could’ve been there,” Bresee said after the Tigers’ 35-12 win over the Paladins. “It’s a tough situation. Life throws you curveballs sometimes, but you’ve got to keep pushing.”
Ella, 15, was in Clemson all week and had a chance to speak to the team on Wednesday. But Swinney told the media that unfortunately, she had a “real setback” and was taken to the emergency room Friday before being airlifted back to Washington, D.C. on Saturday.
“We love the Bresees. Amazing family,” Swinney said. “She’s 15 years old, and she’s got a beautiful heart and a beautiful spirit. She’s the toughest Bresee in that whole family. It’s just a really tough time right now for all of them. So, to be able to come alongside of them – you can’t take the pain away, but you can share in it and walk through it with them. That’s what our team is trying to do with Bryan.
“It’s been really tough, but it’s also been beautiful to see a group of young men put their arms around their brother. So unfortunately, she wasn’t able to be here today, but she’ll definitely get a game ball from this game.”
Bryan was planning to head home to Maryland on Saturday night to be with Ella and their family for a couple of days.
That family, Bryan said, is where he finds strength during this difficult time. And right now, he’s just trying to play his role for Ella as a football player and do what she enjoys watching.
“We’re a super close family, and honestly, I don’t know what I’d do without them in this time,” Bryan said. “My two older sisters have really done a great job helping my mom out with everything, and my dad. All them being home, and me knowing that Ella’s in really good hands with my family, and I can trust everything they’re doing with her at home. Just kind of keeps me on the straight and narrow and settled here, just playing football and doing something that I know she loves to watch.
“She’s kind of my role right now. Everyone has roles in our family for her, and this is my role right now.”
Bryan describes Ella as “super outgoing” and “just a good person to be around” – something Clemson’s players and coaches were able to see firsthand while spending time with her this week.
“She’s always super positive no matter what’s going on,” Bryan said. “Just brings a smile to my face whenever I’m around her, and anybody’s who’s around her.”
As Bryan went through Tiger Walk, Ella, of course, was at the forefront of his mind. So, too, was the support he has gotten from his team and Clemson fans.
“This team has been my support system down here when I’m not at home, and they’ve been there for me since all this has started a little over a year ago,” he said. “So, they’ve done a great job since it all started, just being behind me.”
“It’s hard being away from home,” he added, “and just having the support that I have here is super special.”
Swinney wanted Saturday’s show of support for Ella and Bryan to ensure they know the Tigers are completely behind them and their family.
“We just wanted to do something for Bryan, and we really wanted to do it for Ella,” he said. “We were trying to surprise her today, and man, it was just gut-wrenching to be at the emergency room with the family yesterday. She wasn’t able to be with us today as planned, but maybe, God willing, she’ll have another opportunity somewhere down the road. …
“Just a beautiful family that is really, really walking through a tough time right now. Again, one of the sweetest young ladies you could ever meet. Strong, strong. Unbelievable joy in her heart, even in the midst of this battle that’s she’s got. It’s just been incredible. But again, just wanted to find a way that we could put our arms around them. I know they know that, but just make sure they know that hey, we’re right here with you all the way.”
TCI is certainly sending our thoughts and prayers to Ella and the Bresee family.
Dear Old Clemson is excited to announce a limited edition football and poster signed by Clemson’s Avengers.
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