Prank to Praise

‘Memory he’ll have for rest of his life’ for young Bama fan

By Gary Lloyd

Our paths did not cross in Tuscaloosa, but I met Cody Kirk in the last year. We converse regularly about sports on Twitter and Facebook. Nothing too serious.

Until this week.

A video was posted to social media after the Iron Bowl, a 42-13 Alabama win, of Cody’s oldest son, Brody, crying tears of joy after a Crimson Tide touchdown. That boy is being raised right by Cody and his wife, Brooke.

Pretty quickly, however, what should have remained a positive turned negative. Someone impersonated a University of Alabama Athletics staffer, sending a message to the Kirk family Tuesday. It stated that the football program, and head coach Nick Saban, were so inspired by Brody’s passion that they wanted the Kirks to come to Tuscaloosa to meet Saban. It all seemed legitimate. Cody learned Wednesday that it was all a prank. Brody cried.

Parker, left, and Brody, right (photo courtesy of Cody Kirk)

In the immediate aftermath of discovering it was a prank, Brody told his parents, “I just want to pray for that person because they’re really mean.” And if that isn’t enough from a 7-year-old, the couple’s 4-year-old son, Parker, said, “He was thinking with his head and not his heart.”

By Wednesday, Alabama Athletics Director Greg Byrne knew about the prank. He asked for the exact spelling of Brody’s name. Byrne, in just one day, had a box of swag mailed to Brody — a football signed by Saban and his wife, Terry; a Saban-signed photo; photos and magazines; and an Alabama lanyard with Brody’s name printed on it.

“It made me feel good that somebody like Greg Byrne took the time out of his day to help Brody,” Cody told me.

Brody was thrilled with the special delivery.

A photo signed by Alabama head football coach Nick Saban (photo courtesy of Cody Kirk)

“It’s a memory that he’ll have for the rest of his life now,” Cody said. “It really is. We go from pure elation to just heartbrokenness to the most faithful Bama fans you could possibly meet. We’re humbled that somebody that is the most powerful man in college football would take time to make a seven-year-old’s life, really.”

I asked Cody to text me some photos from the special delivery, and he sent four — one of the Saban-signed photo, another of the signed football, and two of his sons standing in their crimson jerseys, hovering over the merchandise Byrne mailed.

I suppose the crimson-and-white shakers were supposed to catch my attention. Or the signed football. Or the “Roll Tide” creativity book. But none of those did.

It is the Christmas season right now, so the Kirks’ tree is in the background. Between the two Kirk boys you can see a three-letter hanging ornament.

Joy.

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