Tory Jackson plays with heavy heart

Tory Jackson admits he was very emotional during the early parts of Monday's Irish season opener against Long Island.

It had nothing to do with basketball, however.

On Saturday, Tory's uncle, died of cancer. He was just 49. Tory made it to the hospital just in time to see his uncle.

"It happened so quick," Jackson said after the Irish win. "I tried too hard to make him proud at the beginning of the game."

More than 20 of Jackson's relatives were in attendance for the game.

Seeing that Jackson was trying to do too much, head coach Mike Brey took him out of the game to calm him down.

"It was therapy for the whole family to be here," Brey said. "Sometimes when it's therapy for the whole family to see Tory play, I don't want the weight of the world on his shoulders in having to be the therapist."

"I said, Look, just relax tonight. I understand that you have everybody here. Just smile a little and have fun. I wanted to make sure he didn't feel like everybody's counting on [him] after a tough weekend."

Jackson says the conversation with his coach helped.

"Once I got settled down, I started to play the game like I've been playing the game and helping my team out," Jackson said.

Jackson helped his team out by dishing out 8 assists, grabbing 6 rebounds and scoring 4 points.

He says it was the whole Notre Dame program that helped him out the last two days.

"It was rough until I got back here," Jackson explained. "I went home for a day and then I came back."

"My teammates just helped everything start going well. A big smile was on my face when I came back because of the people who surrounded me when I came back---the coaches, even the people in the school, around here."

"Everyone just picked me up. It's a lovely atmosphere around here."

Jackson will travel with the team on Friday when they head to the Caribbean to participate in the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam.

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