SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Irish guard Rex Pflueger has faced challenge after challenge throughout his Notre Dame career, but he’s never lost his positive mindset.
“It's just a game changer in your life," Pflueger said.
A life lesson he got from his mom, Rebecca.
“I think it just comes down from the teachings that my mom taught me since I was a little kid," Pflueger said. "She always told me to have a smile on my face and try to make someone’s day a little bit better.”
And Rex has kept that smile running across his face, even during the toughest of times.
“I’ve dealt with the hardest pressure in my life last year," Pflueger said. "I don’t think there’s anything that can phase me as much as that."
In December of 2018, Rex tore his ACL against Purdue in the Cross Roads Classic.
About a week later, his mom, his inspiration for his outlook, his family’s rock, was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer.
“I will never forget that moment I found out," Pflueger said. "Both my body and time froze, leaving my mind to scatter in all directions.”
But Rex didn’t sulk. He didn’t question why.
Instead, those scattered thoughts kept bringing him back to his mom’s positive lessons, and Rex became thankful for time.
“I was given the time in my hectic schedule to go home with my mother and my family during the most difficult challenge we ever faced together as a family," Pflueger said. "That was one of the greatest gifts I could ever be given, and all because of an injury.”
Time to be with his mom. Time to recover. Time to be positive.
“I think being positive is not just important to me but it's important to everyone," Pflueger said.
So important that Rex started a Sunday positivity twitter thread, where he shares his thoughts and encourages everyone to share theirs too.
“I think what my role is, is to help remind other people along with other people helping me to remind myself to be positive," Pflueger said. "It really helps you to become happier in your current situation and to strive for better situations.”
On September 14th, nine months after her diagnosis, Rebecca lost her fight with brain cancer.
Still, Rex never changed. Never lost his positivity.
“It’s tough but I’ve got a tattoo on my wrist with her heartbeat that I kiss every night," Pflueger said. "I say good night mom and I see her in my dreams a lot. So it’s really sweet waking up and knowing I got to see her.”
“I tried to resemble the person that my mom was because I honestly think she's perfect," Pflueger said. "I've never seen a perfect person but I got to grow up with one so that's pretty amazing.”
Rebecca’s life lessons for Rex, now radiate throughout the entire Notre Dame basketball team.
During the Coaches vs. Cancer game against Syracuse on January 22, Rex and his teammates wore shoes with blue butterflies, Rebecca’s symbol.
“He’s been great," Notre Dame head basketball coach Mike Brey said. "Everything that’s been thrown at him, he’s handled it amazingly. Just try to be there with him and be there for him. I think he knows how much our group needs him.”
And Rebecca was there in spirit on Senior Day, as Rex thanked his mom for all she’s done for him.
"Without her and her strength I wouldn’t be here today," Pflueger said. "So I love you mom and we’re not done yet. Thank you.”
Pflueger and the Irish are not done yet. Notre Dame's first game in the ACC Tournament is Wednesday night against Boston College. That will be a 7 PM tip on ESPN 2.