Max Duggan throws the ball for TCU.
Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

Max Duggan's Parents and Adopted Siblings Made Him the Leader He Is


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Nothing about Max Duggan's life has been normal. A mega-prospect from Council Bluffs, Iowa, Duggan endured nine-hour heart surgery prior to the 2020 season, played through the 2021 season on a broken foot and lost TCU's starting job prior to this season, only to put together a Heisman-worthy campaign after the starter got injured in the Horned Frogs' season-opener.

Duggan's character, grit and leadership have been on display all season, and they'll especially be on display as TCU plays in its first College Football Playoff starting with a semifinal game against Michigan. Those qualities that have made him who he is wouldn't have been possible without his family. That starts with his parents, Debra and Jim Duggan, and includes his adopted siblings from South Korea, Sam and Megan.

Jim and Debra Duggan's Adoption Story

Max Duggan passes in the Big 12 Championship Game against Kansas State.

Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

Jim and Debra tried to have a child for 10 years before they decided to adopt internationally at Debra's belief. Sam, who is six years older than Max, was adopted first. Megan, who is two years younger than Sam, was adopted next. And suddenly a few years later, Jim and Debra were blessed to have Max.

The family jokes that Max, who stands 6-foot-2, looks like the one who was adopted.

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"When we walk in with our family, people aren't expecting to see two Koreans," Jim said when Max was a recruit, via 247Sports. "So it throws off some of the college coaches.

"We always tell people Max is the one that's adopted."

Duggan Leans On His 2 Adopted Siblings From South Korea

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When TCU beat Oklahoma State at home in double overtime earlier this season to keep their undefeated start alive, Duggan pushed his way through the fan frenzy on the field to see one person in the stands: his brother Sam.

Sam was so emotional that he was tearing up after watching his little brother fulfill his dreams.

"He deserves this," Sam told The Athletic.

Sam himself was a quarterback. He played at Lewis Central High School, where Jim was the head coach and where Duggan would become a legend. To this day, Sam and Max will talk football.

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And Max has said that growing up with Sam and Megan, especially because of their different backgrounds, has made him a more natural leader.

"Having a brother and sister adopted from South Korea, you can be comfortable with other people's personalities, other people's traits, you're definitely going to realize that not everyone is the same," Max told the Star-Telegram.

As TCU plays Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl Saturday afternoon, you can bet his entire family will be in attendance. Hopefully Sam brings the Kleenex box this time.

MORE: Max Duggan: From Heart Surgery to Heartbeat of TCU's Magical Playoff Season

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