Even being well aware that he was in a fight he likely was going to lose, former T.F. North and Notre Dame football star Mirko Jurkovic stood toe-to-toe until the end.
"My brother was a battler," older sibling John Jurkovic said of Mirko, who died Thursday at St. Joseph Medical Center in Mishawaka. He was 42.
"He knew what was going to happen, but he always kept up his spirit," John Jurkovic said of his brother, who succumbed to a long bout with colon cancer. "He displayed the greatest attitude, and through this he never had a cross word for anyone or anything.
"Finally, at 5:50 (p.m.) he closed his eyes."
Mirko Jurkovic was a four-time letter winner and two-year starter at offensive guard at Notre Dame in 1990 and 1991, the latter season he was a consensus All-American pick. He was also named Notre Dame lineman of year by Moose Krause Chapter of the National Football Hall of Fame in 1991.
Jurkovic earned a monogram at defensive tackle for the Irish's 1988 national championship team -- the last football title for Notre Dame. He made the move to guard his sophomore year.
After playing in the 1992 Hula Bowl (then a college all-star game), Jurkovic was drafted in the ninth round by the Chicago Bears. A knee injury suffered during the preseason of his rookie year prevented him from playing an NFL game.
Jurkovic was a prep All-American for the Meteors in 1988.
The Calumet City native is survived by his wife, Angie, and their three children, Mirko, Claire and Samantha. Older brother John played 10 years in the NFL as a defensive lineman with stops in Green Bay, Jacksonville and Cleveland, and now is a co-host of "The Carmen, Jurko and Harry Show" on ESPN 1000.