Thursday, April 24, 2014

Baker meets Coach Gene Stallings


 My mother and father, like all good parents, raised children who love Alabama football.
We learned the names of the Alabama coaches and players like we learned the name of Jesus and his twelve disciples.
Like all good Bama fans, we paused for a moment of silence every time we passed Bryant Denny Stadium and football Saturdays were a day of reverence and one to be regarded with the utmost respect.

Talking about Auburn was like talking about the devil.
And wearing Tennessee orange was the unforgivable sin.
This picture was hung very prominently in our living room.
I knew Coach Stallings was important, because there wasn't another picture in our house as big as this one. Not even one of our family. And my mama really loved us. So I grew up knowing this man was really, really loved. And this man was really, really important.

 I soon learned there were some other things that made this man one worth admiring.
And it had little to do with the events that transpired between goalposts on Saturdays in the fall.

Coach Stallings was a man who loved the Lord and loved his family.
I remember watching him on the television and seeing pictures of him in the newspaper.
He was rarely photographed without his son, Johnny, by his side.
Johnny had Down Syndrome.
I see this picture daily as I walk Baker through the halls of Rise,
also known as the Johnny Stallings Center.

When the opportunity came today for Baker and I to meet Coach Stallings,
I could not contain my excitement.
This man, a National Championship winning Alabama Football Coach,
was also a parent of a child with Down Syndrome.
 This man opened doors and paved roads and created opportunities we are benefiting from today.
 Baker is a recipient of his loving kindness.
Our family is blessed by his.

When I met him today, emotion erupted.
The only words I uttered, "It's an honor to meet you, Coach Stallings."
And on our way out, the most sincere, heartfelt "Thank you," ever to have passed through my lips.

Baker knew, and I knew, it was a true honor to meet such an incredible man.


  1. i love this so much. and i love that precious smile on sweet baker's face.

  2. That picture is PERFECTION! A framer to treasure for a lifetime!