Stacy talks of grace through grief

Published 4:42 pm Monday, June 8, 2009

By By Kerry Whipple Bean

Siran Stacy always wanted to be remembered at the University of Alabama.
His name is now written on the hearts of Crimson Tide fans for more than his stellar seasons as a running back.
Stacy has walked a long road since Nov. 19, 2007, but he has not walked alone.
A “multitude of counselors” has been with him and his young daughter since a drunk driver ran a red light that night and slammed into the Stacy family van, killing Stacy’s wife and four of his children.
Stacy himself was seriously injured in the accident that killed 36-year-old Ellen Stacy, a former volleyball player at Alabama; 18-year-old Lequisa, a budding softball player; Bronson, 10, Sydney, 8, and Ellie, 2.
His daughter, Shelly, 3, survived, and accompanied him to the alumni meeting at the Country Club of Brewton Thursday.
What has helped sustain the father and daughter since the accident, Stacy said, are the thoughts and prayers of friends and strangers — many who are members of the Alabama family.
That “multitude of counselors” surrounds him, Stacy said, quoting from Proverbs: “Where there is no counsel, the people perish; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”
Becoming a legend
Stacy’s march into Alabama football lore began when he was 8 years old, watching Bear Bryant lean against the goalpost. “I knew I wanted to play for them,” he said.
A standout at Geneva High School, Stacy first played two years at Coffeyville Community College in Coffeyville, Kan., before heading to try to fulfill his dream at Alabama in 1989.
Running backs coach Walter Lewis — the Brewton native and former Tide quarterback — encouraged Stacy and his teammates to write down their goals for the season.
Stacy’s was simple: He didn’t want fans to forget his name.
It took a few games before Stacy started to believe his goal might come true.
When it was his time to enter the game,
As he ran for his first touchdown of the game, something clicked, Stacy said.
Stacy went on to rush for 2,118 yards and 27 touchdowns at Alabama. An injury in 1990 cut short what some believe could have been a Heisman candidacy that year, but Stacy returned in 1991 for another successful season.
Achieving the vision Lewis had encouraged him to write down his first year on campus was a milestone for Stacy.
Surrounded by prayers
Stacy’s success at Alabama led to a brief NFL stint with the Philadelphia Eagles, but some off-the-field legal troubles cut short that career.
He later played in the Canadian Football League and NFL Europe.
Eventually Stacy settled in Destin, Fla., not far from his hometown and family, and he and Ellen raised their children and became involved in a church.
The family had been visiting Stacy’s parents in Geneva when the accident occurred just after 11 p.m.  The driver of the car that slammed into the Stacy van had a blood alcohol level twice the legal limit; he later died of his injuries.
For Stacy, surviving his grief would not have been possible without his faith in God or the support of the extended Alabama family.
Fighting tears, he scanned the crowd Thursday night and thanked everyone who prayed for him.
Living with grief is a struggle, Stacy said.
But Stacy said he is also grateful for what he does have in his life, and for the family, friends and fans who have showered him and his daughter with love and prayers.
Stacy, who has been on the road sharing his testimony with church congregations for several months, has plans to put his faith into action even further.
This morning, he will be ordained as a minister by his church, formally becoming part of that “multitude of counselors.”