UA students keep the legacy of Luke Ratliff alive
By Simya Dickson
If you’ve been to an Alabama basketball game at all this season, then you’ve probably seen and heard the legendary Luke Ratliff.
Also known on twitter as fluffopotomus, Ratliff was set to graduate from UA this spring, until his passing due to COVID-19 complications.Loved by students, faculty and the Alabama men’s basketball team, the news shocked hearts everywhere and encouraged individuals to keep his legacy alive.
“He had a footprint on this University that was bigger than most students have had in the last decade,” said William Galloway, a UA senior and close friend of Ratliff. “He inspired students by the passion he had.”
It felt like 30,000 people lost a friend, he said.
In his time at UA, Ratliff served as the president of the Crimson Chaos, a student support group for Alabama Athletics.
Just this season, Ratliff attended all of the home games for the men’s basketball team and almost all of those away.
AJ Spurr, a UA senior, relied on Ratliff to reserve a seat right behind him at home basketball games.
Spurr said he will never forget the energy Ratliff brought to the arena, and the optimism that he expressed at every event.
“He left a legacy of positivity and community,” Spurr said. “He was one to turn everything into a positive light, whether it be trash talk from opposing fans or a bad loss from the basketball team. He found a way to make light or humor out of a dark situation.”
A North Carolina native, Ratliff strived to recreate the support of the Alabama men’s basketball program in comparison to schools like Duke or UNC.
UA senior Matthew Travis lived about an hour from Ratliff’s hometown, creating a close friendship between the two.
Just weeks before his passing, Travis traveled to the SEC championship game with Ratliff.
After his passing, Travis took it upon himself to organize Ratliff’s memorial in front of Coleman Coliseum, the place where the two loved to spend time together.
“I plan to keep his legacy alive by going to basketball games,” Travis said. “Every time I am at a basketball game, I’ll be thinking about him, and all the work he did and how it didn’t go to waste just because he passed away.”
Travis said he would honor Ratliff by cheering how he would want us all to cheer.
In the eyes of his peers, Ratliff was selfless and focused on cheering up others rather than letting his struggles affect his positive attitude.
“He battled anxiety, depression, and had to overcome a lot of mental things,” Galloway said. “He was able through basketball and through the student section to be a leader and express himself for his passions and be able to fearlessly be unapologetically himself.”
Not a lot of people realized how much of an introvert he was, he added.
Nate Oats, coach of the Alabama men’s basketball team, and players all showed their appreciation and condolences for Ratliff by traveling to North Carolina to attend his funeral.
Ratliff changed the perception of the basketball program at UA and touched the lives of everyone in the process.
Overall, friends plan to keep his legacy alive through friendship and passion for Alabama basketball.
“I know he would want everyone to be kind to one another,” Spurr said. “Establish communities wherever you go, have friends, and treat everyone as if they are your friend. That’s all we really can do.”