Alabama football spends Saturday building house for Habitat for HumanityBy Matthew Speakman | 03/04/2018 6:15pm
Photo courtesy of Habitat for Humanity Tuscaloosa
Seventeen houses for 17 national championships.
Nick Saban and the Alabama football team spent its Saturday not in the weight room or lounging around, but building its 17th house for Habitat for Humanity in partnership with the Nick’s Kids Foundation.
The house is located on Juanita Drive in Tuscaloosa. For Terry Saban, building the house was the real trophy after Alabama’s championship season.
“This house represents, to me, a lot than that gold trophy does,” Terry Saban said. “It’s a culmination of a lot of hard work since last August to now. We are already in Winter condition for the next one, but to me, this is the gold trophy.”
Donna Smith and her family were the recipients of the house. Smith is a nurse currently in school to go from a licensed practical nurse to a registered nurse. Her daughter, Megan, is in school at Shelton State and hopes to be a nurse as well.
Donna’s son, Andrew, suffers from spine bifida, which is a birth defect where there is incomplete closing of the backbone and membranes around the spinal cord. He is bound to a wheelchair and is 19 years old.
The house will be totally wheelchair accessible for Andrew. He will have his own door that allows him to go out into the back yard to play.
“This is absolutely amazing,” Donna Smith said. “I had told the guys this morning, the football players, there’s very little that we do and decisions that we make that don’t have longtime rewards or consequences. And this is a longtime reward from the football team, and we are just absolutely grateful. It’s overwhelming. Absolutely overwhelming.”
The morning served as a reunion between Smith and quarterback Jalen Hurts, who was among the 14-player morning crew that was working on the house.
Hurts attended Tim Tebow’s A Night To Shine Prom in Febuary. There, he met Donna and Andrew for the first time. He remembered the joy he saw all around the prom that night.
“Yeah, everyone had smiling faces, everyone was excited,” Hurts said. “Going to the prom, I didn’t initially know what it was all about. I had a friend that said, ‘Do you want to come to this with me?’ I ended up going and realized what it was and that it was Tim Tebow’s event. It was a great experience.”
Hurts worked with players such as defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs as well as linebackers Christian Miller and Anfernee Jennings on a structure in the back yard.
Those players were joined by head coach Nick Saban, who showed up in a pull-over and slacks, to help dig and drill.
Hurts, along with his teammates, know the responsibility they have in the community.
“It means a lot,” Hurts said. “Just doing things to help the community, trying to use the platform that we have. I know it’s a great opportunity for us to get an opportunity to do these things. So, just to give back, be a blessing to others is great for us.”
Many more players, including wide receivers DeVonta Smith and Henry Ruggs III, worked all around the house. The team had more players arrive in the afternoon to relieve them of their duties.
Donna Smith said her son was amazed to see the players he looks up to helping his family out.
“That’s just really cool,” Donna Smith said of seeing the players and Saban. “There’s no other word for that. It’s just cool and we’re grateful that they took a Saturday (off). They’ve got class, they’re taking tests and practice and all of this other stuff. For them to take a Saturday to come out here and do this, that’s really great.”
Editor's note: Jake Stevens, the photographer, is also a public relations intern with Habitat for Humanity. He did not contribute to the reporting of this story.