Gators in NFL: Cowboys rookie Ivie motivated by late sister’s memory

Dallas defensive tackle Joey Ivie (74) runs to the sideline during a practice at the team’s training facility Thursday in Frisco, Texas. Ivie feels the presence of a partner against steep odds: his late sister, Jordan Ivie. She died in a car crash when Ivie was a sophomore at Florida. (AP Photo/Jaime Dunaway)

FRISCO, Texas — While the rest of the Dallas defensive linemen huddled around the water during a break at minicamp, rookie tackle Joey Ivie continued to work.

He crouched into has stance, then rushed toward the goal post, blocking it with his hands. He repeated the move several times until drills resumed.

As a seventh-round pick, Ivie can’t rely on talent alone to make the team. There are 17 defensive linemen on the Cowboys roster, and competition will be intense when training camp starts Monday in Oxnard, California.

Ivie feels the presence of a partner against those steep odds: his late sister, Jordan Ivie. Since she died in a car crash when Ivie was a sophomore at Florida, his football career has been for her.

It will always be for her.

“My sister motivates me because she was a huge fan of my game,” Ivie said. “Being here makes me happy. It makes me realize she’s looking down and wanting me to succeed.”

The months that followed Jordan’s death were the hardest for Ivie, but he found healing in football and faith.

Ivie’s spirituality is something he literally wears on his sleeve: A tattoo reading “Crucified with Christ” spans his chest and lies on top of an angel wing that extends to his elbow. His arms bear scripture that he says helped carry him through the tragedy.

Now more than two years since the accident, Ivie can’t help but smile when he talks about his little sis.

“I remember she was planning on going on a big vacation with a friend for the weekend, but she was like, ‘No, I can’t go. I’ve got to get to my brother’s game.’ She loved to watch me play,” Ivie said.

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