The genesis of that determination began with the birth of a nine-pound, 7.5-ounce baby who wore 1-year-old clothes after a couple of months. His younger brother eventually was warned not to fuss with him — not because Tuitt was unkind, but because Tuitt didn’t know his own strength.
“He broke every toy that he got in his hands,” Tamara Bartlett said.
An intransigent competitive streak grew as large. Tuitt challenged cousins three or four years older to races, and won. Beat him in Scrabble? Let’s do it again. Win at Twister? Let’s do it again.
But disorganized neighborhood sports were his only athletic outlet. Not until his mother moved the family from Florida to Georgia did he move into football, and moving on to Notre Dame was in ways a product of the same zest for something new.
“People in SEC country stay in the SEC,” Tuitt said. “I came up here because it was more of a comfort for me to know if I could play and practice every day feeling comfortable, I could grow. I feel comfortable and I do stuff every day knowing I’ll be around people I love.”
Said Bartlett: “I’m like, for you to grow, you need to experience life. And you won’t experience life when you’re close to home.”
Tuitt has helped fill the voids in a championship-level defense, the most critical of all Brian Kelly-era advances.
He just can’t escape the feeling of something missing.
Not to be
Cornelius Williams lived in the Bronx. He was 40, Bartlett said, and she guessed they had not been in contact for eight years. She said he never made an effort to meet his son, and her only explanation for the estrangement is the distance between New York and Georgia, and out of sight, out of mind.