MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WALA) - A legendary figure from Crimson Tide football history was immortalized in bronze on Friday.
The special ceremony took place at Faulkner University in Montgomery,
Around these parts, just the name Gene Stallings can draw quite a crowd.
The coach led Alabama to a national championship, and spent time coaching in the NFL.
He's received numerous honors, but the statue behind a curtain at Friday's event wasn't for him; it was for his son John Mark.
Coach Stallings said, "Those of us that have children want good things to happen to our children."
John Mark Stallings was born with Down syndrome. But his smile and loving spirit captured the hearts of sports fans nationwide.
"He's really the famous one in our family. A lot of people would ask me and say aren't you Johnny's daddy? It's a great thrill to know he's still appreciated," said Stallings.
Johnny was appreciated in life and in death. He died in 2008.
"He was 46 when he passed away. And the saddest day of my life, really," said Stallings.
So to honor Johnny's memory Faulkner University had a bronze sculpture made of him - next to a field that bears his name.
The sculptor went through painstaking detail to make the statutes, even carefully crafting the Alabama championship ring.
In all, it took two years to create.
Faulkner University President Billy Hilyer said, "(He) exemplified a lot of the characteristics and qualities that unfortunately we lost to a great degree in our society."
The statue is based on a very iconic photograph of the father and son holding hands on the football field.
"We done that a jillion times you know," said Stallings. "Every time we went for a walk or something, I'd always hold his hand."
Johnny left his mark on the Crimson Tide faithful and now this was a chance to return the favor.
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