For Walt….

June 9, 2019

Ladies and Gentlemen –

I want to take a minute or two to tell you about a friend of mine in Alabama.

His name is Walt Gary.

Walt passed away on Thursday night, while he was in intensive care at a local hospital.

He was 36 years old.

Walt never drove a car, wrote a book, attended college or had a distinguished career.

But yet he is loved and adored by thousands of famous people and not-so famous people.

He has been featured on a television segment to a national audience that was also seen around the world and is still being enjoyed on YouTube which I have provided for you here.

Walt is from Tuscaloosa Alabama and he was born with Down syndrome.

As you know, Tuscaloosa is also home to the University of Alabama Crimson Tide.

For the last 23 years Walt has attended every Thursday practice at the football complex and is widely known in the Athletic Department for his “Predictions” of the upcoming game that week that he also shares with the players and the coaches to include Coach Saban.

It’s a rich tradition that goes back to when Coach Stallings was at Alabama.

Walt worked part-time at one of the University Bookstores too, and I don’t know anybody that wouldn’t make an effort while you were on campus to go by “His” bookstore just to see him.

His humor and wit was infectious, as was his positivity, and love for his fellow man.

Walt didn’t think he had “Down” syndrome he said he had “UP” syndrome.

That was Walt, always positive, always upbeat always loving and kind.

This past week when Walt was admitted into the hospital with bleeding on his brain, one of the nurses asked him “If he was allergic to anything.”

Walt quickly replied, “Yes ma’am, anything Auburn.”
Walt didn’t see football players and other athletes at Alabama as celebrities; he saw them as his friends. Everyone was Walt’s friend. Coach Saban was his friend, all the players, coaches and everybody else was his friend.

Walt would quickly tell you that God was his friend, because of all the great things He does for him on a daily basis.

Before a crucial season a couple of years ago, Walt “predicted” Derrick Henry would win the Heisman trophy and Alabama would win a National Championship.

Walt even told Derrick Henry that every Thursday for the first couple of weeks of the season too as part of his weekly predictions. Walt’s mother (Betsy) told Walt that he shouldn’t mention the Heisman trophy to Derrick Henry that may be putting unnecessary pressure on him during the season.

So Walt then began asking Derrick “When are you going to New York?”

When Walt’s mother reminded Walt about “Not mentioning” the Heisman trophy, Walt smiled and relied, “I didn’t say anything about the Heisman Momma; I just asked when he was going to New York.”

Walt never saw the bad in people and he never judged anyone unless they were referees that threw an untimely penalty flag against Alabama during a game, but that can be easily excused.

He loved everybody especially those of us who wear Crimson and White.

I could talk about what a “Rock Star” Walt was around the athletic complex and how everybody (everybody) is going to miss his presence not just this season but for seasons to come.

I could talk about the hundreds of tributes that have flooded in for Walt on social media from players past and present. I could mention how his sudden death has affected thousands of people around the country.

Instead I would rather mention something else…..

Walt loved everybody.

Walt never judged anyone or knew disappointment unless Alabama lost a football game.

Walt lifted people up around him with his positivity and amazing attitude on life.

Walt never deceived anyone or tried to hurt anyone. He just loved them.

I wish I was more like Walt, and then I might too be a better person.

But Walt left us an example of what we “can” become with a good attitude and loving those around you.

You might think I making too much over one person’s untimely death.

I am not alone, as a celebration of Walt’s life will be held in Bryant Denny Stadium at the University of Alabama on June 12th and everybody (everybody) is going to be there.

This, for a man that never attended the University, never had a career.

But yet Walt had more to do at the University than just attending some classes and his career was one of example to his fellow man and showing love, care and concern to those around him.

There is more I could write about Walt and the other Walt’s in this world.

But I will leave this article with a “prediction” of my own and this is for Walt.

Actually It’s not so much a “prediction” as it is a fact.

I know that Your Friend God welcomed you home the other day and I will tell you something else. We are all better people for knowing you my friend.

Roll Tide Walt, God Bless You.


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