A beloved superfan of the University of Alabama men’s basketball team died of Covid-19, his mother said on Saturday.
Luke Ratliff rarely missed a game and was referred to as “Fluffopotamus” by the Crimson Tide community. He died on Friday evening, said his mother Pamela Ratliff. A senior at the University of Alabama, Mr. Ratliff was due to graduate in August. He was 23 years old.
“He had a personality bigger than this world, never met a stranger,” said Ms. Ratliff on Saturday.
Mr. Ratliff traveled to the men’s NCAA basketball tournament in Indianapolis to cheer on the Crimson Tide until they lost to UCLA last weekend. He recently went through rapid coronavirus tests several times, Ms. Ratliff said, and the tests came back negative.
“He didn’t have any of the typical symptoms until the cough started that week,” she said.
Mr Ratliff was eventually treated for bronchitis and it was later discovered that he had contracted Covid-19.
The fans were allowed to fill up to 25 percent of their normal capacity for the tournament. In response to Mr Ratliff’s death, the Marion County Health Department said in a statement it was investigating whether “someone in Indianapolis may have been exposed to COVID-19 from an Alabama resident who has visited Indianapolis in recent days.”
“We continue to encourage residents and visitors to practice the simple and important habits that protect us all: wearing a mask, washing hands, and social distancing,” the department said.
There were loads of honors from the Crimson Tide community celebrating Mr. Ratliff.
“We’ll forever remember our # 1 fan,” Alabama Men’s Basketball said on Twitter. “We love you.”
Nate Oats, Alabama’s trainer, said Mr. Ratliff’s death “doesn’t seem real.”
“Fluff has been our biggest supporter since day one,” Oats said on Twitter. “Put everything he had into our program. Loved sharing this ride with him. You will be missed very much, my man! I wish we had another victory cigar and hug together. Roll Tide Forever forever. “
Mr. Ratliff described his love for college basketball in the Tuscaloosa News earlier this year.
“College basketball is different because it’s literally right in front of you: you can see it, you can touch it, you can attend 16 home games a year. It’s tangible, that really inspired me, ”Ratliff told the outlet and discussed his preference for the game over football.
On March 31, Mr. Ratliff recorded the men’s basketball season in Alabama on Twitter and posted his personal highlights from that season.
“I will be finishing college after attending 44 of the Flood’s last 45 conference and postseason games, including 42 in a row,” Ratliff wrote. “What a bloody ride it was.”
Mr. Ratliff is survived by his parents and two brothers.