Clemson's Bryan Bresee plays against Furman in 2022.
Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ella Strong: Bryan Bresee's 15-Year-Old Sister Reminds Him to Never Give Up

The Clemson Tigers football community was hit hard by the death of Ella Bresee, the 15-year-old sister of Clemson University's defensive tackle Bryan Bresee, who died following a battle with an aggressive form of brain cancer. Bresee, who played football at Damascus High School in Maryland, announced the tragic news about his younger sister on Instagram, where members of the college football world offered their condolences to the entire Bresee family.

But while the 2022 college football season was challenging for the Bresee Family, Bryan never gave up and now he's on the doorstep of becoming a first-round pick in the NFL Draft.


"My beautiful sister Ella you amazed me every single day with the fight that you put up and how joyful you were constantly through this battle. Never did I think I would be sitting here today saying bye to you. I want to thank you for bringing happiness to not only me but so many people. You are the best sister a brother could ask for and I know for a fact heaven has gained a beautiful angel today, Love you forever and always Ella bear," Bresee wrote.

In the last week of her life, as Bryan Bresee's sister continued to fight the brain cancer, Clemson football players wore "Ella Strong" t-shirts against Furman. Ella was originally going to be there for the game, but had to be airlifted to a Washington D.C. hospital just a few hours before the game, according to the Greenville News.

Bresee led the team's Tiger walk into Clemson's Memorial Stadium in an emotionally charged moment.

"You're not by yourself. We're walking with you," Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said.

Against Wake Forest, the first game following the news of his little sister's death, Bresee was back on the field, fighting in the trenches for the South Carolina football juggernaut.

Dabo Swinney, Bryan Bresee, and the No. 5 Clemson Tigers came into Winston-Salem to face No. 21 Wake Forest with heavy hearts. And, with his parents in the stands, the heart of the Clemson defense returned to the field. This was always going to be a difficult game, as Wake Forest QB Sam Hartman and the rest of the Demon Deacons team begin to heat up, but Clemson had more to fight for and eventually came out on top.

"Before the game when I ran out, it got a little emotional," Bresee said to Sports Illustrated. "I know she's watching over us, she loved Clemson football, and she'll be within us this whole way."

"It brings my family joy, watching us play," Bresee added. "My role through this when it started, 17-18 months ago, has been playing football and bringing joy to my family. ... It's good to be back and have something else to focus on when I'm out there playing. It takes your mind off everything and away from reality for a little bit."

"It's a tough time for our family, and everyone standing behind us through this has been awesome."

Bryan Bresee is Ready for the NFL

Bryan Bresee of the Clemson Tigers runs against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

Bresee was the No. 1 overall recruit in the 2020 class and won ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2020. He entered this season with 48 tackles (9.5 for loss), 5.5 sacks and a forced fumble in 16 career games.

A torn ACL limited him to just four games in 2021, but he's expected to be one of the best interior defensive linemen in the country this season. CBS Sports ranked him the No. 15 overall draft prospect ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft.

But, like his sister proved to her brother time and time again, if there's a battle in front of you, be strong and fight on. That's something we're sure Bryan will do everyday in the NFL.

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