Cameron Luke Ratliff, an Alabama superfan, died Friday night after being hospitalized with COVID-19-related pneumonia according to close friends on Twitter.
“Please pray for one of my best friends…he’s in the hospital and being intubated with COVID Pneumonia because his O2 stats are so low,” @RandRcigars tweeted on Friday evening.
Ratliff was an unmissable presence at Alabama men’s basketball games, where he was known for wearing his iconic plaid blazer and leading the student section in coordinated cheers. Ratliff, who was a senior studying public relations, made his mark on a national level with his love for Alabama athletics. In a previous interview with The Crimson White, Ratliff said that he’d seen cut-outs of his face at multiple away games and even one memorable “College GameDay” broadcast.
Ratliff was widely credited for reinvigorating Crimson Chaos during his time at the University. His presence in Coleman Coliseum was so inspiring to fans, athletes and staff that the prospects of him remaining a student for years to come was a common refrain on Gump Twitter and even from Alabama men’s basketball head coach Nate Oats himself.
“If @fluffopotamus88 will stay and get him to do a 4-year masters then PhD, if we can get him right on the floor for the next [eight to nine] years, that would be great,” Oats once said. “New sport coat every few years.”
Ratliff attended the team’s tournament games in Indiana in March. In a tweet, Ratliff referred to the experience as “the ride of a lifetime.” He had attended the Tide’s last 42 games.
i will finish college having attended 44 of the tide’s past 45 conference and postseason games, including 42 in a row.
what a freaking ride it’s been.
— Cameron Luke Ratliff (@fluffopotamus88) March 31, 2021
Fans, UA athletes and the campus community flooded social media Friday evening to share their condolences and memories of a beloved superfan.
Senior forward Alex Reese said he was devastated to hear the news of Ratliff’s passing. Commonly known as “Fluff” among fans and friends, Ratliff often tweeted his support for Reese’s actions on and off the court.
The news shook members from all corners of UA athletics.
“He always wanted to know what he could do to support our spirit squads—he will never be forgotten and his legacy will live on forever,” Jennifer Thrasher, the director of UA spirit programs who worked closely with Ratliff, said in a tweet.
Matthew Travis, a senior news media major who works at WVUA and was a close friend of Ratliff’s, is planning a memorial outside Coleman Coliseum on Saturday at 1 p.m.
“The best thing we can do right now is be around others,” Travis said in the tweet.
COVID-19 cases across the nation have drastically decreased since early January. In late March, the UA System reported a record low in positive tests among students and staff. On Friday, Governor Kay Ivey announced Alabamians aged 16 years and older will be eligible for the vaccine beginning April 5.
The University of Alabama, which topped charts for campus infections in the fall, has not publicly reported any COVID-19-related deaths among students.