Life isn’t fair.

That’s a big lesson Alabama co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Mike Locksley teaches his players. It’s short, but it’s not sweet.

Then, he continues.

“But you just go out every day and you do the best job you possibly can do,” Locksley said. “If you can look yourself in the mirror when you go home at night, know that you maximized your time today – in the now and in the present.”

The present is bright. Alabama just won its 17th national championship title. Locksley and the team are basking in the glory and will host a celebratory parade next Saturday.

But times weren’t always so simple this past season. The Sunday after Alabama’s first game against Florida State, one of Locksley’s four children, Meiko Locksley, was killed in Maryland.

A couple days after the news, Mike Locksley returned to practice. Members of Locksley’s position group respected how strong he was.

“I got a daughter,” Alabama wide receiver Cams Sims said. “So if she would’ve passed away, I don’t know what I would’ve did. Seeing him kind of helped me.”

Locksley set an example. His strength and dedication was admirable, and it made his players want to be there for him just as much as he was for them.

So, they rallied around their coach. Supported him. Loved him.

“He said when he comes to work with us, it makes him happy,” Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley said. “It was a great feeling for us to know that we were making him feel that.”

Every reception, touchdown and victory was for Locksley and his family. That includes his wife, kids and players. Because team and family are one and the same to the veteran coach.

“They’re like my sons, each and every last one of those guys,” Locksley said. “They each have their own individual personalities, their own secrecies on how to deal with them.

“For me, that’s the refreshing part of the day, being able to just be in the meeting room, teaching and developing. That’s fun for me. That’s why I got into this business.”

Locksley actually has coaching opportunities elsewhere and could leave the UA program.

Before Locksley got the job he held this past season, he was an offensive analyst for the Crimson Tide. He thought of it as a sabbatical, allowing him to observe coaches from a different perspective and come up with fresh ideas. When he was promoted to assistant coach, it didn’t take long for the wide receivers to get comfortable around him.

“It’s just because he’s a good dude,” Ridley said. “You want to be around him. You want to be around somebody who’s having fun in life, so that’s why.”

Said Sims: “He helps us learn the game, but he makes us laugh learning the game. I say he’s a great coach.”

Just like he considers them sons, Locksley is a father figure to the players. They look up to him and, most importantly, trust him. There’s no hesitation to go to him with any questions, problems or concerns they have.

And Locksley is guiding them both on and off the field.

“The present is called the present because it’s a gift,” Locksley said. “So let’s enjoy now. Let’s not worry about yesterday, and let’s not look too far into tomorrow. Let’s just live in the present today.”

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