TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — Before opening its season next Tuesday, the University of Alabama men’s basketball team will honor one of its most passionate and celebrated fans.
Luke Ratliff, 23, died on April 2 due to complications from COVID-19. Better known as “Fluffopotamus,” Ratliff was a fixture at Alabama men’s basketball games, donning his signature plaid jacket that alluded to similar coats worn by former coach Winfrey “Wimp” Sanderson.
Ratliff, who was originally from North Carolina, attended every Alabama men’s basketball game last season as the president of UA’s student section, the Crimson Chaos. Ratliff and the section cheered on the team as they had one of their best seasons in years, winning the SEC Championship and making it to the Sweet 16. Of the team’s 45 games that season, Ratliff only missed one game.
Before the Crimson Tide’s final home game last season, Ratliff received a standing ovation from the crowd as well as a signed basketball from head coach Nate Oats.
Following his death, UA’s athletic program set up a memorial fund in Ratliff’s name that will cover travel expenses to road games, in addition to merchandise for students and promotional giveaways for the student section.
Alabama will pay tribute to Ratliff in a ceremony Tuesday that will conclude with a presentation of a plaid jacket to the new Crimson Chaos president, a tradition that will be carried down between future presidents in his honor.
The ceremony will begin at 7:40 p.m. between the women’s and men’s basketball games at Coleman Coliseum.