Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Lucy Brantley: A life spent with the Crimson Tide

Courtesy of Lucy Hawkins

Roll Tide pins. Alabama buttons. A Crimson Tide needlepoint belt bought for a birthday. Even crimson beaded friendship bracelets. It sounds like just another game day in Tuscaloosa, but for one Birmingham native, it was the best way to say goodbye. 

Priests, ministers and even an Auburn fan all sported Crimson Tide gear at Lucy Brantley’s funeral in honor of the lifelong football fan who attended games for more than 80 years.  

“She spent her time basically living in the same ZIP code,” her son Arthur Brantley said. “She grew up with Alabama football.” 

Lucy Brantley attended her first football game in 1942 when she was just 5 years old. When she became a grandmother, she ensured her six grandkids had the same experience.  

“She would take her grandchildren when they were old enough to sit still that long,” her daughter, Lucy Hawkins, said. “Every single one of her grandchildren had the privilege of going to Alabama games with her.”  

In her 80 years as a fan, Brantley had access to most of the Crimson Tide home games. What started off as a “stadium certificate” at Legion Field eventually turned into Tide Pride season tickets dating back to the early ’90s.  

Brantley traveled to watch the team as well; from Miami and Tampa to New Orleans and Atlanta, she was there for many of Alabama football’s most legendary moments.  

The Goal Line Stand. Second and 26. Sugar Bowl victories. The Johnny Manziel upset. And countless Iron Bowls. 

Hawkins remembers one Iron Bowl in particular, a cold game played in sleeting rain that had Brantley’s grandson “almost turning purple.” 

“My mother was bound and determined that we were going to watch that game,” Hawkins said. “She was not a fair-weather fan by any stretch of the imagination.” 

For Hawkins, though, a recurring scene stood out the most.  

“I remember going down to the side of the field and looking at Bear Bryant leaning up against the goal post in his houndstooth hat with his rolled-up legal pad papers of notes,” Hawkins said. “That was something we did on a regular basis when we went to the games at Legion Field.” 

Although Brantley did not attend The University of Alabama, her childhood, family and life still revolved around the Crimson Tide and its best members: Bear Bryant, Joe Namath and, of course, Nick Saban. 

“Somebody joked to me after the service that one of the first things she did in heaven was go seek out Bear Bryant and talk to him about Nick Saban retiring and what were we going to do,” Hawkins said. “She loved to talk Alabama football with just about anybody who would talk football.” 

Brantley’s grandson Brant Hawkins, a UA sophomore majoring in accounting, was a frequent contributor to Crimson Tide talks. 

“Every time I saw her, we’d talk about football and what I expected from the season or what we thought was going on, especially last year as a freshman,” Brant Hawkins said. “She’d always call me and ask me what did I think about the game this weekend.”  

That 2022 season when Brant Hawkins was a freshman ended up being his grandmother’s last season physically attending Alabama football games. The Iron Bowl win in Bryant-Denny Stadium was the last game she attended, although she planned on making the game day trips to Tuscaloosa in the 2023 season until her health prevented them.  

“She was not the type of person to give up or acknowledge the fact that she couldn’t do something that she wanted to do,” Lucy Hawkins said. “So, she was determined that she would get her tickets and get her parking pass.” 

For Brantley, her parking pass located at the Catholic church meant nearly as much as her season tickets.  

“We’re not Catholic, but she just loved the location, the people were always so nice. It was run for many years by a bunch of Boy Scouts, so she loved supporting the Boy Scouts,” Lucy Hawkins said. “That was her spot. She got a pass this past year even though healthwise she couldn’t go to the games. She wanted to make sure she had her pass and she was supporting them.” 

Despite her health, Brantley still followed Alabama football in its 2023 season. Arthur Brantley said celebrating Gravedigger and the Iron Bowl victory last year will be one of his favorite memories of his mother.  

“She made Alabama football a part of our lives, and I don’t think, for any of us, that will really go away,” Lucy Hawkins said. “I don’t think I’ll ever have a game day that I don’t think about her or I’m not putting on something that she would have worn on game day.”  

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