A touching story has recently surfaced involving Kent Waldrep, the TCU player that was paralyzed in a 1974 game against Alabama at Legion Field. Waldrep was carrying the ball and had his legs cut out from under him by a player that had been blocked to the ground behind him. He landed on his head and was instantly paralyzed. Bear Bryant was so distraught by the accident that he didn't return to Tuscaloosa with the team, but went to Waldrep's hospital room in Birmingham instead. Allen Barra's The Last Coach details Bryant's efforts to raise money for Waldrep to buy him a special wheel chair accessible van, pay his medical bills, etc. He even enlisted the help of wealthy pal George Steinbrenner (who was at the game) to contribute to Waldrep's monumental bills. Coach Bryant stayed in contact with Waldrep until his death in 1983.
My parents were at the game and they said it was an incredibly intense experience. They said the stadium was full of weeping when Waldrep was carried off on a stretcher even though the full extent of his injuries weren't known at the time. They said the landing was so awkward and brutal that there was no doubt his injuries were severe.
In 1973 Bryant endowed a scholarship at the university to help the children of former players attend Alabama. 2006 will mark the first time one of the Bryant scholarships will go to the child of an opposing player. Waldrep, however, had become a part of the Alabama family and was even made an honorary member of the A-Club (Alabama's letterman club) which made the younger Waldrep eligible for the scholarship to attend Alabama. Alabama athletics director Mal Moore learned of Trey Waldrep's application and acceptance to the University of Alabama during the Tide's visit to Dallas last year for the Cotton Bowl. Moore then put things in motion to try to get Trey the Bryant scholarship.
Trey Waldrep will begin studies at Alabama in the fall.
Here's a video that discusses Waldrep's relationship to Coach Bryant and the University of Alabama: