This American skier competed in his dead brother's ski suit in an emotional tribute at the Winter Olympics

  • Jonathon Lillis competed in his dead brother's ski suit in the Winter Olympics freestyle aerials final on Sunday.
  • Mikey Lillis died suddenly in his sleep last year. He was just 17 and also dreamed of becoming an Olympian.
  • Jonathon previously paid tribute to his brother at the opening ceremony, by wearing Mikey's ashes in a glass pendant.


Three skiing siblings all shared one clear dream.

American skier Jonathon Lillis and his two brothers, 19-year-old Chris Lillis, and 17-year-old Mikey Lillis, always wanted to compete in a Winter Olympics as a family.

But Mikey Lillis never got the chance as he died unexpectedly in his sleep in October 2017. And even though his death shattered the family, Jonathon Lillis became even more determined to keep the dream alive.

So he did two things:

First, he placed some of Mikey Lillis' ashes inside a glass pendant and wore it around his neck during the 2018 Winter Olympics opening ceremony on February 9.

Then, he had his late brother's Team USA ski suit specially shipped to South Korea so he could wear it in the freestyle aerials finals on Sunday.

More on Lillis' run

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Freestyle Skiing - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Men's Aerials Training - Phoenix Snow Park - Pyeongchang, South Korea - February 18, 2018 - Jonathon Lillis of the U.S. reacts. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Freestyle Skiing - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Men's Aerials Training - Phoenix Snow Park - Pyeongchang, South Korea - February 18, 2018 - Jonathon Lillis from the U.S. trains. Picture taken using multiple exposure. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
Freestyle Skiing - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Men's Aerials Training - Phoenix Snow Park - Pyeongchang, South Korea - February 18, 2018 - Jonathon Lillis of the U.S. competes. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 18: Jonathon Lillis of the United States competes during the Freestyle Skiing Men's Aerials Final on day nine of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Phoenix Snow Park on February 18, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by XIN LI/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 18: Jonathon Lillis of the United States competes during the Freestyle Skiing Men's Aerials Final on day nine of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Phoenix Snow Park on February 18, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by XIN LI/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA -FEBRUARY 18: 't Jonathon Lillis #10 from the United States in action during the Freestyle Skiing - Men's Aerials Final at Phoenix Snow Park on February 18, 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA -FEBRUARY 18: 't Jonathon Lillis #10 from the United States in action during the Freestyle Skiing - Men's Aerials Final at Phoenix Snow Park on February 18, 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
Freestyle Skiing - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Men's Aerials Training - Phoenix Snow Park - Pyeongchang, South Korea - February 18, 2018 - Jonathon Lillis of the U.S. reacts. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Freestyle Skiing - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Men's Aerials Finals - Phoenix Snow Park - Pyeongchang, South Korea - February 18, 2018 - Jonathon Lillis of the U.S. reacts. REUTERS/Issei Kato
Freestyle Skiing - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Men's Aerials Finals - Phoenix Snow Park - Pyeongchang, South Korea - February 18, 2018 - Jonathon Lillis of the U.S. reacts. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
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"It was all of our dreams to compete in the Olympics together, and knowing that he never got the chance… it felt like the best way to give him that experience," Lillis told The Today Show.

"In the past few months, I have learned how hard life is. Sometimes life really sucks but when you are down, there are always things you are passionate about to pull yourself out of your dark moments. Aerials is that for me."

Lillis finished seventh in the aerials finals.

Here is a photo of the Lillis brothers together:

Chris Lillis was unable to compete in Pyeongchang has he is recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament injury. But they both intend to represent America at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

"He can compete with these guys out here," Jonathon Lillis said of his middle brother. "Team Lillis will keep on going and in four years' time it will be a whole different story."

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