Alabama Basketball: The passing of a Crimson Tide legend

[Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]Alabama Vs Vandy Sec Basketball
[Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]Alabama Vs Vandy Sec Basketball /

The Alabama basketball community mourns the loss of Luke Ratliff

If you’ve attended an Alabama basketball game or watched one on television over the past four years, you have been impacted by Luke Ratliff, the student superfan and leader of Alabama’s student section. He took many forms (from his plaid jacket to his Nike hat to his headband to his FBI jacket on special occasions), but you likely saw him at some point. Even if you didn’t, you experienced what an Alabama basketball game with Luke felt like, and that makes you lucky.

Ratliff attended 44 of the Tide’s past 45 conference and postseason games. He spent his senior year driving over 10,000 miles to attend every Alabama game he could.

Ratliff tragically passed away due to COVID-19 on Friday, April 2. He was 22 years old.

Luke Ratliff was on his own tier of Gump. There are fans. Then there are superfans. Then there was Luke.

Ratliff will be known as a great fan, but he was more than that. He was a great person. He brought light into every room he entered, and he reached common ground among a diverse group of fans. No matter where you were from or what you believed, all you had to do is love the Tide.

He transformed what it meant to be an Alabama basketball fan. Whether Alabama had frustrating losses to inferior teams or a conference championship on the line, he was loyal and passionate. His energy set the standard in Coleman Coliseum, and every other student tried to follow suit. However, no one will ever match the energy of Luke Ratliff.

Ratliff was a person who was impossible to hate. While SEC rivalries might have gone back and forth on Twitter or in the stands, it was always out of love and respect. If anything, they were frustrated that they didn’t have an ambassador quite as passionate as him.

While the loss of Ratliff (a.k.a “Fluffopotamus”) burns for all Alabama basketball fans and UA students, his legacy speaks for itself. Many became Tide fans because of him, and his infectious personality changed the atmosphere at Coleman Coliseum.

Alabama will never be the same without Fluff. No words or actions will completely suppress the grieving taking place in Tuscaloosa. As a city and a fan base mourn, they can hopefully smile as they remember their favorite moments with Luke Ratliff. Whether it was his shot from the stands before games or his hijinks on Twitter, those who knew him can’t think of a moment with him without smiling.

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Whether you knew him personally or just saw him in the plaid jacket on your TV screen, you got to experience one of the brightest and happiest people in some form. Fans will be outside Coleman Coliseum this Saturday at 1 p.m. to celebrate his legacy at his favorite place.