John Mark Stallings, 1962-2008


Photo Gallery: John Mark at UA

Aug. 2, 2008

Tuscaloosa, Ala. - John Mark Stallings, son of former University of Alabama head football coach Gene Stallings, died early Saturday morning. John Mark, who was born with Down's syndrome and suffered from health problems related to a congenital heart defect, was 46.

"I've known John Mark Stallings his entire life," said Mal Moore, Director of Athletics at the University of Alabama. "I want to extend my deepest sympathy to Coach Stallings, Ruth Ann and the entire Stallings family. For someone who never played or coached a game, I think John Mark may have touched more Alabama fans than any other person ever did. I would like to thank the Stallings family for sharing their love for John Mark with all of us."

John Mark's story, detailed by his father in the book, "Another Season: A Coach's Story of Raising an Exceptional Son", served as an inspiration to millions. The University of Alabama football equipment room was formally dedicated as the "John Mark Stallings Equipment Room" on December 8, 2005.

John Mark's courage and attitude had a positive impact on all who came in contact with him. He also deeply affected Coach Stallings' perception of football, and the coach's approach on the field.

"I had a whole lot less tolerance for the gifted and a whole lot more tolerance for the guy that wasn't quite as gifted," Gene Stallings told a reporter in January of 2008. "With Johnny, I saw him struggle to walk, struggle to kick a ball, struggle to do everything that he did. So, I had a little tolerance for the guys that had to struggle. If you had talent and didn't lay it on the line, I didn't have much tolerance for you. The less talented guy can't play on Saturdays. But he can get you ready to play on Saturdays. I wanted the guys who played on Saturday to have an appreciation for that guy who got them there."

Visitation will be held on Monday, August 4, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Starrett Funeral Home, 425 South Church Street, Paris, Texas. The funeral service will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 5, at 5 p.m. at Lamar Avenue Church of Christ, 3535 Lamar Avenue in Paris. Burial will follow at the Stallings' Hike-A-Way Ranch.

John Mark Stallings is survived by his mother, Ruth Ann Stallings, also of Powderly; four sisters, Laurie Vanderpool of Brentwood, Tenn., Anna Lee Young of Heath, Texas, Jackie Chalk of Argyle, Texas, and Martha Kate Gunn of Waco, Texas.

Memorials may be made to the RISE program at the Stallings Center, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Ala. 35487; the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, 9400 North Central Expressway, Suite 1201, Dallas, Texas 75231, or the youth program at Lamar Avenue Church of Christ, 3535 Lamar Ave., Paris, Texas 75460.

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