Tyler Mizoguchi had reason to pay attention to the recent grim news out of Japan.
Relatives of the Illini junior gymnast were among the thousands directly affected by the massive offshore earthquake and tsunami March 11 that continues to cripple parts of the Asian nation.
"We couldn't get ahold of them for about a good week," Mizoguchi said of his aunt and two cousins. "And finally they called my dad back and let us know that they're all OK, thank God."
Mizoguchi's relatives in the Pacific coastal city of Nagoya indicated their house was damaged but no one in the family was seriously injured.
"They went through some hard times," he said. "They're still going through some hard times. Their house is a little messed up, but other than that everything is going really well."
The Houston native has visited his relatives in Japan once, after his senior year of high school.
"It was amazing," Mizoguchi said. "I got along with all my cousins and everybody, and it was a lot of fun. They really helped me to get in the Japanese culture, and I kind of tried to teach them a little English as we went along, too."
Mizoguchi, who doesn't speak Japanese, was glad his cousins are bilingual.
"They had to help me out a lot," he said.