Walt Gary, the Alabama Super Fan, has passed away at the age of 36.
Walt was a big part of the Crimson Tide organization as he would come to the facilities every Thursday night, greet all of the players and give them praise or advice, and give Nick Saban a piece of paper with his prediction of what this week’s game outcome would be. From I’ve been told from some sources, Walt had the Tide winning every game, which to his defense he was not wrong.
I remember seeing Walt’s story come on College Gameday one Saturday morning while tailgating at a friend’s house. Typically, College Gameday stories, thought touching, are all the same. But for the first time at a tailgate, nobody talked and everybody actually watched an entire College Gameday story. It was Walt’s story.
Walt’s story is one that should tug on the heartstrings of every single person it comes in contact with, mainly because Walt filled the hearts of every single person he came in contact with. As the video states, Walt was born with Down Syndrome and at a young age was welcomed into the Alabama family.
His mom, wanting to get her son to be excited about something, asked a former Alabama coach Gene Stallings, who also had a son with Down Syndrome, if she could bring him to practices on Thursdays if he was “good in school” to which the organization welcomed him with open arms. He bonded with the coaches and players and became best friends with John Mark Stallings, Gene Stalling’s son. Since then, every Thursday Walt goes to practice and does his thing. Beautiful.
I’m not an Alabama fan. I’m not a Nick Saban fan. I have zero interest in promoting anything that has the slightest reference to Alabama (I’m an Ohio State fan through and through, Go Buckeyes).
But I commend Alabama and Nick Saban for how they treated Walt, not because it looked good for cameras, but because it’s what you should do. Walt seemed like one of the nicest and quite honestly the coolest people to hang out with, and I, like many others I’m sure, are sorry we never got the chance.
Rest in peace to Walt Gary. Alabama and college football lost one of the greats today.