FINALS WATCH: 'Saving Private Ryan'

AP News
Posted: Apr 08, 2013 11:03 PM
FINALS WATCH: 'Saving Private Ryan'

ATLANTA (AP) — Here's something you may not know about Michigan coach John Beilein.

He has a family tree to rival just about anyone: His extended family helped to inspire the Oscar-winning Steven Spielberg film "Saving Private Ryan."

In the film, a band of soldiers is ordered to track down and send home the lone sibling — played by Matt Damon — left alive after all his brothers had been killed in World War II.

The story is based on the Nilands, a family from upstate New York, who happen to be cousins of Beilein's mother. One of the brothers was shot down in the Pacific, and two others were killed shortly after the invasion of Europe, so a fourth brother was found in Europe and sent home.

Another brother also made it back, a departure from the Hollywood version of the story.

"I was born in '53," Beilein said. "That happened in the early '40s. I grew up with that story and didn't think much about it until I watched the movie, until I had children of my own, and could only imagine what that family went through.

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"Now it hits me of how unique that was and what great stock we all come from."

— Dave Skretta —


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