AT SUNRISE, 6:57 a.m. to be exact, on Jan. 12, 2021, Ellen Potts' phone chimed. Still groggy, the executive director of the Tuscaloosa, Alabama, chapter of Habitat for Humanity checked the notification to see a familiar name: Terry Saban.
Potts was surprised to hear from the wife of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban so soon. Only a few hours earlier, the Crimson Tide had beaten Ohio State to win the school's 18th national championship. The team bus hadn't left Hard Rock Stadium in South Florida until well after midnight, which meant Terry was either running on very little sleep or none at all.
"ARE YOU READY?!" Terry Saban's message read. "Can't wait to start planning House #18 ... it will be a house built with love."
Potts smiled. This was the enthusiasm she'd come to expect.
Ten years ago this month, on April 27, 2011, the largest tornado in state history tore through Tuscaloosa. Mayor Walt Maddox detailed the toll in raw statistics: 12.5% of the city destroyed, 53 residents killed and 1,200 injured in just seven minutes. It was as if, Maddox said, the hand of God had slammed down on Tuscaloosa and left it unrecognizable.
The disaster deeply affected the Sabans, and those close to the legendary coach believe it caused him to reconsider his impact on people and the community.