Chris Zorich, Notre Dame's All-America nose tackle and the school's Most Valuable Player in the Federal Express Orange Bowl, discovered his mother's body when he returned to his home from Miami.
After Notre Dame's Orange Bowl loss on New Year's Day, Zorich made his daily call to his mother at her apartment on Chicago's southeast side.
That was the last time he would talk to Zora Zorich, a 59-year-old daughter of Yugoslavian immigrants who was plagued with health problems and got by on a disability check of about $200 a month.
When he got home, Zorich had to smash open the apartment door before finding his mother dead on the floor.
Police said she died of natural causes, sometime after watching the Orange Bowl on television.