His sister's magnetism extended beyond the family, Sotomayor said, and was borne out of their humble upbringing in the Bronx housing projects of New York City. Sonia and Juan Sotomayor's father died when they were children, at which point their mother raised them alone in a New York City public housing development.
When they were kids, his sister looked out for him, Juan Sotomayor said, even when he got his first job at a bakery where she already worked.
"When I got to the bakery, everyone was like, 'Oh, my God, your sister is the best worker. She takes the place of two people and you should be just like that,'" he said. "And I wasn't like that. I'm sorry."
"She can mix with any crowd," he said. "This comes from my mom. If you're poor, no matter what person you are, no matter what faith you are, what kind of economics, you treat everybody fairly and equally and treat them humanely."
Juan Sotomayor says he now sees his sister four or five times a year but talks to her weekly. They "both have very busy lives," he said, but the two are still very close.
"For me and her, we have a relationship born out of the ... there was just three of us, really. It was a core group and that was our family," he said.
Although he said he was an "irritating" little brother, Juan Sotomayor said his sister took care of him. Now that she's at the doorsteps of the highest court in the land, her little brother says she deserves it.
"[I'm] just really proud of her," he said. "No other word to say it. No other words to describe how you feel. It's just a great feeling.
"I've always said that the Hispanic population in the United States needs role models, educational role models," he said. "And I think she is the perfect role model ... She's a strong person. She's determined."