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

‘Be a Caden’: Remembering Crimson Tide equipment manager Caden Clay

Courtesy of Heather Clay
Caden Clay poses on a truck.

Family and community members remember Caden Clay, a 19-year-old equipment manager for the Crimson Tide football team, for his strong character, joyful spirit, faith and love for all things Alabama football. 

Clay was a rising sophomore from Prosper, Texas, studying sports management at the University. As an equipment manager, he was able to combine his passion for sports and serving others. 

Heather Clay, Caden’s mother, said that Alabama football was love at first sight for her son. 

“He knew immediately when we stepped foot in Tuscaloosa that that’s where he needed to be,” she said. “He was generously offered a spot on the equipment training staff and loved every single minute of it.” 

Caden Clay’s love for sports did not begin at the Capstone. He attended Prosper High School, where he was a starter his senior year on the football team’s punt block unit. To his coach, Devin Lemons, he was known as “Slick” because of his ability to smoothly move his body and put himself in the best position to be successful.

Lemons said his senior-year starting role was “the culmination of four years of hard work that he had put in coming to fruition.” 

“He was able to play a big role in a great season,” Lemons said.

Hard work was second nature to Clay. Lemons said that he was often the first one to show up and the last one to leave football practice. He was known by his coaches and teammates for his “servant attitude,” and he often helped the coaches do the other players’ laundry during his lunch period. 

Tyrel Lenard, coach at Prosper ISD, said that he will remember Clay by three traits: work ethic, chivalry and faithfulness. 

“Caden fought the best O-line in the state, day in and day out,” Lenard said. “Instead of cowering, he continued to line up. Off the field he was kind and always looked joyful. Not happy, but joyful. Joyful in all circumstances.”

Clay’s faith was another attribute that differentiated him from the typical 19-year-old. His youth pastor, Brandon Wash, said that Clay always wanted to see others succeed and have their dreams fulfilled before his own. 

Wash and Clay met monthly to discuss things such as college decisions, career choices and his personal faith. However, Wash said that the conversation would always get steered to how he could further impact the lives of others. 

“He just wanted to see other people live out their dreams and the purpose God had for their lives,” Wash said. 

At church, Clay served in many capacities, but he had a special place in his heart for photography. He asked if he could take pictures at a service one Sunday, and Wash said that after a couple of weeks Clay began coming on his own ready to capture the service. 

“Before I knew it, he was there every time the doors were open, taking pictures for our church and sharing the life of our church,” Wash said. “He gave us a lot of digital resources to use and he was doing it because he just enjoyed being there.” 

Heather Clay said that he was able to combine his photography talents with his love for athletics, as he enjoyed taking pictures of several different sporting events.

“He had a really unique eye for seeing the value of little things and seeing the value in people that a lot of times others would overlook,” Clay said. “That’s what made him a really good photographer.” 

Billy Clay, Caden’s father, said that Tuscaloosa was where his son was at home. Caden Clay was able to form relationships with several members of the football team through personal connections. 

“He saw more in their hearts than their stats,” Heather Clay said. “He just really cared about them as people.” 

Caden Clay will be missed by many. To those who knew him, his smile and joy were contagious. At the memorial service, Lenard told everyone in attendance to “work hard, be chivalrous and be faithful. More simply put, be a Caden.”

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