If you want to understand the story of University of Alabama-Birmingham football, you must first understand the story of Timothy Alexander.
Born to a single mother, Patricia, and two older brothers, Timothy was introduced to sports at an early age. It didn’t take long for Timothy to fall in love with football, a sport that would bring enthusiasm and passion to his life.
“Football became my best friend,” Timothy said in an interview for Raycom Sports. “If I don’t do anything else, I’ll play football the rest of my life.”
Patricia understood how much football meant to Timothy, and she has supported her son’s goals throughout his life.
“Football was his major dream,” Patricia said of her son, “He always dreamed of going to the NFL. There is a love in his heart for football.”
On October 28th, 2006, Timothy had his dreams tragically cut short. While on his way to the Magic City Classic, a game held at Birmingham’s Legion Field, the driver in Alexander’s car fell asleep at the wheel, losing control of the vehicle. Thier car broke through the barrier of the interstate highway and careened off the side of a cliff. Timothy sustained severe injuries to his ribs and spine, paralyzing him from the neck down.
“I went through a lot of depression,” Alexander recalls. “I lost the love of football, I hated this world. I didn’t want to be here.
It took Alexander seven years of grueling physical therapy and a reinvigorated outlook on life, but Timothy Alexander eventually returned to football: not on the field, but as a member of UAB’s football team. Alexander helped to motivate players and participated in as many team workouts as he could. Just as things we’re beginning to brighten for Alexander, the clouds closed above him. At the end of the 2014-2015 football season, UAB announced that it would be shutting down its football program indefinitely. After 23 years in the Conference-USA, UAB football would be history.
Alexander was devastated. He had worked his tail off for the last seven years to return to that football field on game day, and achieved that goal; now it was all disintegrating in front of him. Instead of sulking, wallowing in self-pity and reverting to the demeanour he had after his crash, Alexander fought back. He organized protests, lead rallies, and spearheaded the charge to bring football back to UAB.
“UAB did something so great for me,” said Alexander. “They gave me a scholarship for school, they turned me into an athlete. Now, I get an opportunity to fight for my school, to fight to bring it back. I had to do it, it was only right.”
By May 1 of 2015, the UAB football foundation had raised over $22 million towards the program. Alexander had drummed up tremendous support throughout Birmingham, uniting them across one front to bring back UAB football.
On June 1, with Tim and all of the UAB supports around him, UAB president Ray Watts announced that the university would take steps to reinstate the football program. With tears in his eyes, all Alexander could do is hug his fellow supporters and smile.
“When you believe in something, you take a stand for it,” Alexander says after the decision to bring football back to UAB. ”You don’t let anyone talk about you and say what you can’t do. A lot of people used to question me and say ‘when will [football] be back?’ and they never believed in the students, they never believed in the fans at UAB.
“And now today, at June 1 at 4:00PM, UAB football is back.”
UAB football looks to restart its football program in the 2017-2018 season. I’m certain Alexander will be at that game, and by the resilience he has shown, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was playing in it.
Watch the inspirational story below:
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports