American Idol finalist Anoop Desai carried a special motivation into the competition of the reality show.

While Anoop gave a public shout-out on AI to honor slain college student Eve Carson, few people know how close he was to her. In fact, he dedicated his effort on the show to her memory.

“Those two had a special bond,” said a friend of Anoop.

“They were always together on campus. They studied together, shared meals and stayed up all hours drinking coffee and talking about their futures. Anoop feels a victory would be a fitting tribute to Eve.”

Eve, 22, the student body president of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was brutally gunned down in March 2008.

The bubbly blonde’s SUV had been stolen, and her bullet-riddled body was discovered in a residential neighborhood of the quiet college town. Anoop was like a brother to Eve, according to the friend.

“Eve’s death really rocked all her friends at UNC-Chapel Hill, but especially Anoop,” said the friend. Anoop is working on his master’s degree at the school.

When Anoop was voted back into the Idol competition, he blurted out: “It’s been a tough day. We’re all thinking of Eve, and I love you, Chapel Hill!”

Pick up The ENQUIRER for more details and to see a picture of Eve.