"You choose this life, it comes with responsibilities...Teddy Roosevelt gave an entire speech once with a bullet lodged in his chest. Some things are a matter of duty."
Corrado Soprano, Jr., AKA Uncle Junior, is the son of Corrado and Mariangela D'Agostino Soprano, Italian immigrants who came over from the town of Ariano in 1911. Junior had two younger brothers: Giovanni (AKA Johnny Boy), who was Tony's father and Ercoli (AKA Eckley), who was mentally retarded and spent most of his life in an institution. The senior Corrado was a stone mason, but Junior and Johnny Boy had no intention of following in his footsteps, dropping out of high school and affiliating themselves with the DiMeo crime family.
Junior was highly competitive with his little brother. While both Sopranos had their own crew, it rankled that Johnny Boy's made more money. The fact that old man DiMeo took a special liking to the charismatic Johnny Boy didn't help matters. But despite the sibling agita, Junior always had a deep affection for his nephew. Junior has no children of his own - he's never been married - and spent a lot of quality time with Tony while he was growing up. To this day, his relationship with Tony is probably one of the closest Junior has ever had.
Eventually, Johnny Boy died of lung cancer and Dominic DiMeo was sent to prison for life. When acting boss Jackie Aprile succumbed to cancer as well, Junior took over. But he was perceived as high-handed and selfish - in mob parlance "he ate alone" - causing serious dissension in the ranks. Tony eventually stepped in and took charge, leaving Junior as a figurehead - and target for the Feds. Once again upstaged by a younger relative, Junior was hurt and angry, and vulnerable to the manipulation of Tony's mother, Livia. Nursing her own grudges against Tony, Livia convinced Junior to order a hit on her son. But the hit attempt failed, and Tony punished his uncle by severely curtailing his earning power and effectively cutting him out of his life. Not long after that Junior was arrested on federal racketeering charges and diagnosed with his own case of the "big casino": cancer of the stomach. So now the former boss of the most powerful crime organization in New Jersey is a sick old man, living alone and facing the bleak prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison.
But Junior's a tough old bird. He's outlasted haler, heartier enemies and despite his situation, he hasn't sung for the feds. He's even managed to, if not completely bury the hatchet with Tony, at least kick some dirt over it. All in all, it's much too soon to start writing an obituary for Junior Soprano.