Alabama football players help build a family’s dream home

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Barry Stough, right, shows University of Alabama football players Evan Neal, Henry To’o To’o and Kendall Randolph how to use a compound miter saw to cut base molding. Twelve Alabama football players along with Coach Nick Saban and members of the staff helped with construction on the Habitat for Humanity Tuscaloosa’s 18th Championship House funded by the Nick’s Kids Foundation Tuesday, July 27, 2021, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Gary Cosby Jr./The Tuscaloosa News via AP)

AP

Delores Crawford and her granddaughter, Joselyn Hamner, always knew what the interior of Hamner’s first home would look like.

Colors of gray and blush, a medium bright tone of pink, and plenty of both.

That would be the color scheme inside, they decided, once they found out Hamner had been selected to receive a home from Habitat for Humanity Tuscaloosa. They didn’t know when that would be, but they had no shortage of plans for when it happened.

“She wanted to be the one to pick out all the furniture,” Hamner said. “I’m not going to say she was more excited than me, but she was super-excited. She was ready to decorate my little girl’s room.”

Crawford never got to see the home, though. She died of COVID-19 on Jan. 11.

Half a year later, the house they shared conversations dreaming about is becoming a reality.

Nick’s Kids Foundation is funding the home. Working with Habitat for Humanity Tuscaloosa, Nick and Terry Saban’s charity has helped make now 18 homes possible, one for each Alabama national championship in the school’s football history.

For No. 18, 12 Crimson Tide players joined in Tuesday to help with construction of the Hamner home for a few hours, doing everything from painting to working on baseboards and door frames a little more than a week before fall practice begins.

It all started when Nick’s Kids Foundation funded 13 Habitat for Humanity homes after an EF-4 tornado ripped through Tuscaloosa in 2011 — one home for each championship the football program had at that time. Every football championship UA has won since has meant another home.

“(Miss Terry) puts quite a bit of pressure on me to win them so she can build another house,” Nick Saban said Tuesday.

Terry Saban wasted no time alerting Habitat for Humanity Tuscaloosa when her husband’s team defeated Ohio State on Jan. 11. Ellen Potts, Habitat’s executive director, had an email at 6:57 a.m. the next day from Terry Saban letting her know that Nick’s Kids couldn’t wait to start on a new house.

Then, Potts called Hamner, who works in UA’s environmental services and had previously been selected as the recipient of the next Habitat house.

When she heard the good news, Hamner apologized for not sounding more enthusiastic on the other end of the phone. The day before the call, the day of the national championship, Crawford had died.

“I was sitting on my steps in my house, tearing up,” Potts said. “It was a gut punch.”

But before she died, Crawford knew that her granddaughter had gotten approved for a home where she would live with her 1-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son. Hamner said her grandmother was excited and proud of her.

Joining her in bringing that blush-and-gray dream to life Tuesday were Phidarian Mathis, Major Tennison, Kendall Randolph, Evan Neal, Henry To’o To’o, Brian Robinson Jr., Daniel Wright, Shane Lee, DJ Dale, John Metchie III, Chris Owens and Jordan Battle, as well as Nick Saban.

“It’s a great feeling to be out here working, building up the community,” said Robinson, a graduate of Hillcrest High School in Tuscaloosa.

As the sun beat down in 90-degree heat, the sound of the power saw and the smell of summer sweat and saw dust filled the air, with players busy at work along with other workers and volunteers.

If Crawford could have been there, Hamner knows she would have been helping, too. And she likely would have had opinions, telling folks to change this or move that.

“She’d probably be out here fussing,” Hamner said, smiling.

The colors, at the very least, would have met Crawford’s wishes. Hamner made sure of that when planning and designing her new home. It’s not done yet, but the kitchen is gray. And the furniture that will eventually sit on the gray floors will be blush color.

Seeing the home take shape, and seeing the colors exactly how her grandmother wanted it, made Hamner cry.

“I wish she was here to see it and see the outcome of it and everything,” Hamner said. “But I know she is in heaven looking down, watching over us.”