Christmas came early for Notre Dame guard Matt Farrell and his family.
Farrell didn’t think his older brother, first lieutenant Bo Farrell, 26, was coming home from Afghanistan until February. Even though the two talk every day, the last time they had seen each other was in May.
And then a message for Matt came onto the Jumbotron in the Edmond P. Joyce Center after the Irish’s victory over Colgate on Monday night.
“Matty, I’ve been watching you tonight from here,” Bo said on the video. “For us, home is wherever we’re together. And I look forward to being home with you soon. Really really soon.”
Soon was an understatement and no one in the family knew what was coming next. Moments later, Bo appeared, made his way to the court and the two embraced in a teary hug.
In a postgame interview with reporters in South Bend, Bo said that he had been planning the surprise for two months and that he had coordinated the visit through Notre Dame’s athletic department. Matt didn’t realize that his brother was actually in the arena until the camera panned out and he saw that the standup was filmed in the locker room.
“I’m pissed at the whole staff, they all knew,” a smiling Matt told reporters after the game. “It’s just awesome. He picked a bad game to come to, way too many turnovers. But we’re not talking about the game. Like I said, I’m at a loss for words and I’m just really happy right now.”
Bo, who has been stationed in Texas but has gone back and forth from Afghanistan, got back to the United States a few weeks ago. Matt said that he had thought he was still overseas.
According to Matt, in the Farrell family, they don’t ask for much for Christmas but this was “by far” the best gift he’s ever received.
Matt had 13 points in Monday’s 77-62 win over the Raiders and Notre Dame improved to 10-2 on the season.