TUSCALOOSA | There isn't anything Shannon Brown can do to bring his daughter back, but the former University of Alabama football player is doing all he can to make sure the memory of Loryn Alexandria Brown is carried on in exactly the way it should.
Brown, whose daughter was killed by the tornado that severely damaged Tuscaloosa on April 27, has established the Loryn Alexandria Brown Memorial Endowed Scholarship. And like his daughter would want, Brown is taking steps to make sure the scholarship is hard-earned. She had set and reached a goal of attending UA, and after taking classes at Shelton State, she had been accepted to start classes at UA in August.
"She wanted to graduate from where her daddy did. She was very passionate about that. She worked," said Brown. "She didn't have to, but her mother and I made her work to help her understand the value of a dollar."
As such, recipients of the scholarship will have to meet a criteria that goes beyond academic performance.
"We definitely know that the applicants need to be Christian applicants, they need to be working," Brown said. "… We want to try to honor a student that wants to further their education at the University of Alabama, but also knows what Loryn stood for and her work ethic, and the kind of person she was."
Brown said UA will set up the criteria formally, and that a member of the Brown family will sit on the selection committee. Donations to the fund can be sent to National Alumni Association Endowed Scholarship Program, P.O. Box 861928, Tuscaloosa, AL., 35486. Brown said a UA alumni chapter, along with several supporters who have chosen to remain anonymous, have agreed to match donations to the fund.
"The football family has reached out to me and my family more than you can possibly imagine," Brown said. "It's important for people to understand that in times like this, people reach out. It's been just phenomenal."
Brown's former coach at UA, Gene Stallings, attended Loryn Brown's funeral in Wetumpka. Brown said UA Director of Athletics Mal Moore, who recruited Brown to UA when Moore was an assistant coach under Stallings, attended the funeral service as well.
Brown lives in Madison, Ala., when the tornado struck, and wasn't immediately aware that his daughter had been in the path of the storm. Upon receiving phone calls of concern over his daughter, Brown drove to Tuscaloosa and began searching.
"I was in contact with my dad. He was one of the first ones in. My dad's got heavy equipment, bucket trucks and tractors. He was moving trees out of the way, monster trees, telephone poles, wires, to try to get back to my daughter's house. If it wasn't for him we wouldn't have found her as soon as we did," Brown said. "The toughest thing I had to do as a father … I was there when they pulled her out, and I had to identify my little girl's body. That's something nobody should have to do."
Reach Chase Goodbread at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0196.