In the South, there aren't many things that will bring people together (or tear them apart) quite like college football. Many of us grew up going to games and wearing team colors, and there are plenty of folks who might consider themselves the best and most loyal fan of their team. Unfortunately for all the University of Alabama fans out there, we’ve found the Crimson Tide's No. 1 fan. His name is Walt Gary, and he shakes head football coach Nick Saban’s hand every Thursday night as he gives the coach his score prediction for that week’s game.
Walt has been going to Alabama football practice every Thursday night for 22 years, a tradition that started while Gene Stallings was head coach. He gives the coach his score for the week, and, even if it’s a tough game, he always picks Alabama to win. Walt has met and befriended more University of Alabama sports legends than we can count, and he even has a national championship ring of his own. Any University of Alabama fan would stare in awe at Walt’s wall of pictures and autographs in his room. Walt doesn’t own many (if any) clothes that aren’t stamped with an Alabama logo, and he picks out what he’ll wear to next Saturday’s game a week in advance.
Walt has worked at the University’s book and supply store for more than a decade, and he knows every Alabama football player by name. When he’s not cheering on an Alabama sports team, you’re likely to find him flirting with pretty girls. Walt is 34 years old, and he has Down syndrome. To him, though, it’s “Up syndrome.” We can imagine that it might be hard for someone who’s undergone four open-heart surgeries to have a positive attitude, but Walt's contagious joy defies the odds. The only time he’s really unhappy is when a University of Alabama sports team doesn’t win. Even then, he’s always looking forward to the next game.
Walt’s positive outlook on life has affected more people than we can imagine, and he’s got the friends to show it. Of all the countless friends Walt has, though, he says that his very best friend is God. “God will make sure that I go to work tomorrow and have a good day and smile. My saying is: The quicker He smiles, the quicker I smile,” Walt says.
We know a lot of mega football fans in the South, but after meeting Walt Gary, we think he deserves the top spot. Some may even say he’s a legend.