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Where is Joy Murrath Now?

Finding out what became of Brian Piccolo’s Widow Joy Murrath

Bio Summary

Full Name: Joy Murrath Piccolo O’Connell

Age: 80 years old as of 2023

Date of Birth: April 5, 1943

Place of Birth: Chicago, Illinois

Zodiac sign: Aries

Nationality: American

Ethnicity: Caucasian

Height: 5feet 3inches

Children: Lori, Traci, Kristi, Tom, and Mike

Parents: John Murrath and Mary Murrath

Where it all began

Joy Murrath was born on April 5 1943 to her parents John Murrath and Mary Murrath. She was raised in Chicago Illinois together with her sister Carol Murrath who suffered from cerebral palsy and her brother.

Louis Bian Piccolo was born in October 1943 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts to Joseph and Irene Piccolo. He was the third and last child in his family.

The couple met and fell in love in high school. Piccolo was a great athlete and Joy was a cheerleader. 

The Great Proposal

Brian Piccolo proposed to his then-girlfriend Joy Murrath with a diamond ring. The thing that surprised most people with this proposal is that Brain also gave Joy’s sister Carol Murrath a diamond ring too, though smaller. He later mentioned that he gave the ring to her sister to make her feel happy and appreciated.

Career, Education, and Personal Life

joy murrath
joy murrath

Brian was a professional American football player. He played for the NFL and his number was 41 on the football team. He was the running back for the Chicago Bears for four years. He played in halfback and running back positions for the Chicago Beas of the NFL.

Brian Piccolo went to school in Central Catholic High School and then proceeded to Wake Forest University for his graduate studies. He played baseball, football, and basketball growing up. After receiving scholarships based on his love for sports, he knew he had to choose one sport as he had already decided to become a professional athlete. Brian Piccolo had to forgo other sports to focus on getting into the NFL. While at Wake Forest University, he was named the ACC Player of the Year in 1964.

Brian Piccolo’s hobbies while growing up were playing soccer, watching movies, and listening to old rock music. Most people when they hear the name Brian Piccolo, they think of his young life and cancer. However, his teammates describe and continue to describe him up to today as fun and funny. He had a great sense of humor and because of it, he was an entertainer and motivator for his teammates in the locker rooms.

The Wedding

Brian and Joy got married in on December 26, 1964. However, their wedding was heavily disrupted as Brian missed his wedding rehearsals. He was engaged in a Postseason Shine All-Star-Football game. This previous commitment almost made him miss his wedding! When he was questioned about missing his wedding rehearsals, he jokingly said he hates practice. Brian Piccolo was described by his coaches and teammates as a person who hated attending football practice. 

Family Life

Joy Murrath and Brian Piccolo lived together in harmony and love as husband and wife and were blessed with three children. The couple’s children were Lori Piccolo Bruno, Traci Dolby Piccolo, and Kristi Piccolo. 

Brian was a loving dad to his daughters. Murrath described him as the type of father that spent all his days and time playing with his beloved children. He loved to spend time with his daughter engaging in shopping and playful activities. The girls would spend time with their father playing and paddling in the pool in their backyard. 

Cancer and Death

In 1969 Brian was diagnosed with an aggressive type of germ-cell testicular cancer. He underwent treatment which was successful at that time but later on he developed chest pains and breathing difficulties when he got back to the field. He had a malignant tumor in his chest He underwent many surgeries and chemotherapy sessions to remove malignant tumors on his lung. He recovered once again and continued pursuing his career in the NFL.

Later on, it was discovered that the cancer had returned and this time it has spread to other organs in his chest cavity. Murrath and her family were deeply devastated by the downward spiral of his health. Even as his health condition deteriorated, he continued to make humor around his cancer. He would visit children in the hospital wards who suffered from cancer to encourage them to fight the disease with courage. On June 16 1970 at the age of 26 years, Brian Piccolo succumbed to his illness. His teammates, among them Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus acted as pallbearers during his funeral. He died at the prime of his football career.

Brian Piccolo left behind his wife and three young daughters; at the time of his death, the youngest child was only one year old. 

What happened to Joy Murrath After Brian Piccolos Death?

Though Brian Piccolo’s death was inevitable after his diagnosis, Joy and her daughters were hit hard by the tragic loss. At the time of his death, the couple was married for seven years. At the age of 25 with three children, Joy Murrath became a widow.

joy murrath
joy murrath

Joy Murrath Remarries

Three years after her husband’s death, Joy got married again. In 1973 exactly three years after Brian Piccolo’s death, Joy got married to Rick O’Connell a Chicago Police Officer in the Ready-mix concrete business. Together they had two children Tom O’Connell and Mike O’Connell.

Honoring Brian Piccolo’s Memory

Joy and Brian’s family and team members from the Chicago Bears established a foundation in the loving memory of Brian Piccolo. The Brian Piccolo Cancer Foundation has greatly benefited other cancer patients and their families. Through the foundation, the survival rate of people suffering from embryonal cell carcinoma has increased. Joy Murrath and her family also set up a scholarship fund in Piccolo’s name.

Over 50 years after his death Joy Murrath still honors the memory of Brian Piccolo who was taken too early from this world. On the anniversary of his death, the family still gathers to celebrate his life and regularly buy tickets, attend championships and watch football together at home.

After Brian Piccolo’s death, many fans who admired and loved him honored his memory by having schools, parks, streets, awards, and honors named after him. To this day, his fans still feel that Brian Piccolo was still too young to die and he was taken away from this world too early.

Net Worth

At the time of his death in 1970, Brian Piccolo was worth $50,000. Currently, he is estimated to be worth $50 million. The property is managed by his children and wife.

Brian’s Song

Brian Piccolo’s life inspired the production of the movie Brian’s Song in 1971. His character was played by actor James Caan. The movie portrayed the life of Piccolo and his teammate who was also his best friend. Following the success of the movie, a remake of the same was produced and released in 2001 with Sean Maher playing Brian’s character.

Facts About Joy Murrath

  • She has at least 12 grandchildren
  • Has five children, 3 girls, and 2 boys
  • She is a graduate of the University of Chicago 
  • Has a degree in Psychology
joy murrath
joy murrath

Frequently Asked Questions About Joy Murrath?

Did Brian Piccolo’s wife Joy Murrath remarry?

Joy Murrath remarried three years after Brian Piccolo’s death. She got married to Rick O’Connell in 1973. Together they had two sons.

How many children did Brian Piccolo and his wife have?

Joy and Brian had three children- all daughters. Joy Murrath had additional two children with Rick O’Connell after marrying him after Brian Piccolo’s death.

What was the profession of Joy Murrath?

Joy was a cheerleader in high school and later graduated from the university of Chicago with a degree in psychology. She was a devoted wife and mother to her children. Joy Murrath was heavily involved in charity initiatives.

How old were Joy’s daughters when Brian Piccolo died?

At the time of their father’s death, Joy and Brian’s children were 4, 3, and 1-year-old. Now they are 56, 55, and 53 years old as of 2023.


On June 16, 1970 the world woke up to very devastating news. Brian Piccolo was dead.  He had been diagnosed with cancer and was seeking treatment but the disease over-powered him and he finally succumbed. At the time of his death, he was married to Joy Murrath. The couple’s love story was very alluring and unique in its kind.

The couple began their relationship in their younger days. Joy Murrath and Brian Piccolo were high school sweethearts. Their love grew from the high school’s hallway to the field’s arena where the whole world got a lock at the wonderful match. Brian and Joy stayed together in love raising a happy family until Piccolos’ final breath. 

Joy Murrath lives in Delaware, Wisconsin with her family and is currently taking care of her elderly mother. She is still the president of The Brian Piccolo Cancer Research Foundation.

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