During Saturday’s edition of ESPN’s “College GameDay,” the sports network gave viewers an inside look at Nick and Terry Saban’s charitable impact on the Tuscaloosa community.
Shortly after the tornado outbreak on April 27, 2011, the Sabans decided to partake in a transformative effort to help families regain stability by building new homes for those in need.
The Alabama football head coach recounted the scene of that fateful day.
“I was actually here working. All of a sudden, you know, things didn’t look so good outside,” said coach Saban. “It looked like somebody took a half a mile wide brush hog and just drove it from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham.”
Miss Terry made mention of survivors’ sentiments in the aftermath of the destruction, saying, “People were just feeling lucky to be alive.”
At the time of the devastation, Alabama’s football program had claimed 13 national championships to its name. Coach Saban said that would be the number of houses they would build for in-need families.
He added, “After that, it was just help everybody that you could help in the community – have a presence, be there. So, we said that we would build houses for needy families who lost their homes relative to the number of national championships that we had won at that time.”
Nick and Terry Saban knew they had to rebuild Alabama's football program in 2007.
They didn't know that one day they would rebuild lives too, one house at a time 🏠 pic.twitter.com/rFO9wgDrTx
— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) November 27, 2021
Since then, the Tide have gone on to win an additional five national championships, for each the Sabans have built a home in partnership with Habitat for Humanity.
Miss Terry noted the excitement as her husband’s program inches closer each season toward claiming another title.
“As we get close toward the end of the season, it’s hard not to say ‘we’re so close, it’d be nice to win one more,'” she stated.
In a bit of lightheartedness, the Crimson Tide head coach made mention of his wife’s eagerness to build another home. “I don’t think that’s a joke,” he said with a smile and chuckle. “I think she’s pretty serious.”
Shalare Powell, who was gifted a home after the 2012 national title, outlined the Sabans ‘ charitable work by declaring that the two “go above and beyond for the community.” She added, “They gave me a second chance.”
Alabama defeated Georgia to win the 2017 national championship in dramatic fashion by way of a miracle touchdown pass from star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. That play paved the way for Donna Smith and her son to receive a Habitat for Humanity home.
“That was the pass that changed our lives,” proclaimed Smith. “Andrew was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus, which is fluid on the brain. It allowed my son to be able to wash his hands, brush his teeth, take a shower without any help. So he has freedom to move around independently.”
She further advised, “When they win a national championship, they are impacting a family in a way that they may never truly understand.”
Coach Saban laughingly recalled being wary of his star quarterback working on an elevated surface during the home’s construction.
“That’s the house I went to when Tua was up on a scaffold when I asked Miss Terry, ‘Can we get him a job on the ground so he can’t fall off?'”
Tide running back Brian Robinson, Jr. described the feeling of working on the home that was built for Joselyn Hamner after Alabama won its 18th national title last year.
“Being able to put my hands on a house and, you know, help contribute to the building of the house and seeing the young lady smile, it just meant a lot to me,” said Robinson.
While football is of extreme importance to the Sabans and the Crimson Tide faithful, the couple maintains that each home impacts lives far greater than any national championship ever can.
“Those are the statues, those are the real statues,” said Miss Terry. “Not the one out in front of Bryant-Denny Stadium,” referring the carving of her husband’s likeness outside the stadium.
Coach Saban wholeheartedly agreed, “We’re just playing a game – but I don’t think it’s life-changing. When you hold the keys up, you know, that’s life-changing.”
Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL