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I've never met the guy, but I always loved his intensity.....I remember UGA game 2004 when Cadillac had a big return on a punt and coach gran running along the sidelines right next to him....loved that guy
Good guy and good coach. Great family. I did a book with him about his daughter Sydney. Here's something I wrote when she passed away in June 2005.
Little Sydney Gran was to be laid to rest today, her race on this earth run before her sixth birthday. She never spoke a word and never took a step, but she touched more lives than many of us ever will.
I got the sad news Wednesday as I was preparing to leave for Tallahassee and Auburn’s baseball regional at Florida State. Suddenly, I wasn’t thinking anymore of whether Auburn had enough pitching to make a serious run or whether the lower half of the order could provide some offensive production. I wasn’t thinking about what to expect next football season or who Auburn might schedule for a 12th game in 2006.
I picked up the telephone and called the residence of Eddie and Rosemary Gran. Rosemary answered. Her voice was strong. I wasn’t surprised. Eddie, Auburn’s running backs coach, and Rosemary are strong people. More importantly today, their faith is strong.
Sydney was born with Holoprosencephaly (HPE). The overly simple description of that affliction is that her brain quit developing in the first three months of pregnancy. She wasn’t expected to live more than six months.
In October 2000, I talked with the Grans for a story in The Huntsville Times. I was struck then by their strength and faith. As the years went by, I was overwhelmed by it.
In July 1999, Eddie and Rosemary got the news that would test them as they had never been tested and ultimately bless them as they had never been blessed. The neurologist at Children's Hospital in Birmingham had said the words coldly, almost matter-of-factly. Little Sydney, not yet a week old, had a rare birth defect. She probably wouldn’t live six months, he had told them. He handed them a slip of paper on which he’d written the name of the condition and left.
“I’m sitting there with that piece of paper in my hand looking down at my baby,” Eddie said. “He just gave us that sheet of paper and walked out of the room. Talk about turning your life upside down. You don't know what to say. You don't know what to do.”
As the Grans wept and prayed on the two-hour trip home, they had no idea that their little girl would so enrich their lives, deepen their faith and touch their very souls.
“She's changed our family so much for the better,” Gran said. “I treat my other girls different. I coach different. I'm a better father, a better husband and a better friend. The Good Lord gave her to Rosemary and me for a reason.”
Rosemary, left with so many questions and so few answers, researched HPE on the Internet. Chette Williams, Auburn’s team chaplain, and George Mathison, the pastor at Auburn United Methodist Church, were there to help the Grans deal with the emotions that swept over them.
Gran said he will never look at football, at life, the same. That hit home in the 1999 season when Auburn had a suffered a gut-wrenching 18-16 loss to Mississippi State, losing a 16-3 lead in the final minutes.
“It was one of my worst defeats in 13 years of coaching,” Gran said. “I went into the locker room and was feeling sorry for myself. I came out and my wife was standing there holding Sydney. She was having seizures. When a baby has seizures, it’s a bad sight. I grabbed that baby, put her in my arms, and we went and got in the van. I didn't think about the game again that evening.
“It puts it in perspective. Yeah, you hate to lose. Every coach does. Your job is to win football games, but there are also other things that are pretty important.”
Sydney defied the doctor’s predictions. She was a regular visitor to the Auburn athletic department with her two older sisters. Last year, another daughter was born into the Gran family.
Early on, Eddie and Rosemary came to the realization they couldn’t handle it alone. They got on their knees and put their little girl in the hands of God.
“If she were to die tomorrow, I know for 17 months she’s had the best life she could have,” Eddie said on the summer day five years ago. “That I can go to the grave with. I know she'll be in a better place.”
And indeed she is in a better place today, a place where there is not pain and no suffering, only joy.
“Somebody said to me that the children we have are all God's children anyway,” Eddie said. “You are the bearer of them and should thank Him for that every day, but you are just a person taking care of His children.
“If you look at it that way and believe that, you can go on.”
Auburn’s athletic family rallied around the Gran family. Eddie said. Williams, the remarkable man who has influenced so many, was instrumental in bringing light into the darkness. Head coach Tommy Tuberville was unflinching in his support.
“Only he and Rosemary know how it really is,” Tuberville said. “We all think we know, but we don’t. They’ve handled it a lot better than I could have handled it.
“We’re such a tight-knit group. We are like family. As everyone has gotten married, their wives join the family. Everyone shares in the joy when good things happen and in the pain and agony when bad things happen.”
As that first summer wore on, Tuberville and his staff were preparing their first Auburn football team for the season. Sydney had surgery during two-a-day practices.
“Rosemary had her all day at the hospital,” Eddie said. “I'd go right after practice and spend the night. Our friends, our neighbors, the Auburn community, our church have all been touched by her. They took care of the other kids, brought food to Rosemary.
“There are some staffs that would have made this a real bad deal, where maybe you even lose your job. Tommy makes it so good. All these guys have been so supportive. That's the only way you can get through it.”
There will be tears and sadness today, but there will be no regrets. Little Sydney came into this life bearing the greatest gift of all, the gift of love.
This post was edited by PhillipMarshall 13 months ago
Took my kids by a couple days before she passed so we could see her again. She was an inspiration. Rosemary is a tough, solid rock. My family loves them, they are solid people, I was proud to support The Sydney Gran Foundation.
People who use the term "bbq gang" as a term of derision in regard to that coaching staff really don't understand what quality men and coaches they were/are. Personally, I hope I never hear or read that term again. It's an insult to one of the better groups of men we've had on the Plains.
Life Partners Forever_________ nic loves fineScum
Nice read, thanks Phillip.
"Get in where you fit in." Life is, Too Short TL;DR
I wish Coach Gran the best. He was one of my favorite coaches to have come through Auburn. I still remember reading the stories about his special needs daughter. Only a select few ever get to play this sport at the professional level. I am thankful for guys like Coach Gran who are able to coach these young men with a broader perspective on life.
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