The early life and career of Daniel Eugene “Rudy” Ruettiger, a former University of Notre Dame football player, was made into a 1993 feature film called Rudy. He became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on January 21, 2017.
Ruettiger was born on August 23, 1948. He was the third of fourteen children. He played football at Joliet Catholic High School under coach Gordie Gillespie. After high school, Rudy joined the U.S. Navy and served as a yeoman on a communications command ship. After two years, he then worked in a power plant for two years. He applied to Notre Dame, but due to his high school grades he had to attend nearby Holy Cross College. After two years at Holy Cross, where he discovered he had dyslexia, he applied again to Notre Dame and was accepted in 1974 after his fourth attempt.
Ruettiger harbored a dream to play for The Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team, head coach encouraged walk-on players from the student body. So despite his size, 5’6” and 165 pounds, Ruettiger earned a place on the Notre Dame scout team, a practice squad that helps the varsity team practice. In his last opportunity to play for the Fighting Irish at home, the new head coach put him into a game as defensive end. Contrary to the movie portrayal, the coach Dan Devine told him to dress and Rudy played for three plays: the first was a kickoff, the second was an incomplete pass, and the third he sacked the Georgia Tech quarterback. Rudy is the first of only two players in Notre Dame history ever to be carried off the field by his teammates.
Since college, Rudy has worked as a motivational speaker.
In the film, Rudy played a cameo, appearing as a fan behind actor Ned Beatty, who played his father.
In 2013 Rudy was invited by then BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall to attend a fireside the night before the Fighting Irish took on the BYU Cougars, a game that friends Randy “Rudy” Garn and James Clarke had invited him to. Rudy was impressed by the testimony of the football players from BYU and began asking questions. Rudy’s interest in the LDS Church was primarily fostered by his friendship with Randy “Rudy” Garn, a member of the Church. The two men met in October 2005 at the University of Southern California-Notre Dame game, also known as the "Bush Push" in which USC won in the game's final seconds. In the years that followed, their friendship deepened. Both Garn and Clarke attended Rudy’s baptism. Garn performed the ordinance.