Alabama basketball superfan Luke Ratliff, known as 'Fluffopotamus,' passes away at 23

Cecil Hurt
The Tuscaloosa News

Luke Ratliff, a University of Alabama student and the leader of the Crimson Chaos basketball campus support group, passed away Friday night after a brief illness.

He was 23. 

His father, Bryan Ratliff, confirmed the death Friday night.

”He was my son and my best friend,” Bryan Ratliff said. “But he had an extended Alabama family that I never met and he loved them and they loved him.”

Ratliff was hospitalized recently at DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa. Multiple sources with direct knowledge of the situation confirmed to The Tuscaloosa News that he died of complications related to COVID-19.

Ratliff was in attendance at Alabama’s NCAA Tournament appearance in Indianapolis and returned to Tuscaloosa on Monday, March 29, after UA was eliminated by UCLA the night before.

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The official UA athletics Twitter account posted a tribute to Ratliff on Friday night.

Ratliff was profiled in The Tuscaloosa News last month. A native of Wadesboro, North Carolina, Ratliff came to UA as a student and spent five years becoming the most visible fan at Crimson Tide basketball games, often wearing a trademark plaid blazer in the past season.

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“When I came to campus my fandom exploded,” Ratliff told The Tuscaloosa News. “I’ve always had a deep appreciation for the history of Alabama basketball, and you couple that with being a student here at the university and something special happens.”

Alabama coach Nate Oats publicly thanked Ratliff on his Twitter account – referring to Ratliff by his Twitter handle, @fluffopotamus88 – and also mentioned him on his radio show.

“They’ve taken me in," Ratliff said in his interview with The Tuscaloosa News. "They’re good people and I appreciate how close they’ve let me get with the program. I feel like I owe them something. Because I feel like I don't deserve half the things, half the recognition, half the acknowledgement, half the accolades that I get because I'm just doing what I love.”

Reach Cecil Hurt at cecil@tidesports.com or via Twitter @cecilhurt

Luke Ratliff leads the cheers in the student seating area as the Crimson Tide hosts Vandy on Feb. 20 in Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, Ala.