FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Irene Piccolo, whose son Brian's battle with cancer was immortalized in the 1971 television motion picture "Brian's Song," died of natural causes Monday in Tampa. She was 101.
Mrs. Piccolo, who had lived in Tampa since 2000, was born in Yonkers, N.Y., in 1909. She moved to Fort Lauderdale with her husband, Joseph, and their three sons in 1946. The couple ran the Piccolo Sandwich Shop in Fort Lauderdale.
Her sons played football at Central Catholic High, now St. Thomas Aquinas. Brian Piccolo became an All-American halfback at Wake Forest before signing with the Chicago Bears in 1965 as a free agent.
He played for the Bears from 1966 to 1969. That year, he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and died June 16, 1970 at age 26.
"That was a difficult time to get through," son Joseph Piccolo said. "The fame of the movie was a constant reminder. Everywhere she went she was asked if she was related to Brian."
Mrs. Piccolo is survived by her sons Joseph and Donald, seven grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.
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