It was Levi Wallace’s father who convinced him to walk on the Alabama football team.

“I wouldn’t be here without him,” said Wallace.  “Without him convincing me to go out and live out my dream.”

Wallace’s father was in the final stages of a battle with ALS. Levi wanted to be available to help care for his father. Walter Wallace would have none of it.

The day before Wallace’s first spring game for Alabama, his father passed away. Wallace chose to play the game anyway to honor his father.

“He wanted me to do the thing that I loved which was play football,” Wallace said.

Wallace now enjoys seeing his teammates with their families.

“I try to meet as many parents as I can and tell them how much I love their son, and just continue to show that love,” said Wallace. “I know my dad would do the same.”

Not even two years after the passing of his father, tragedy struck Wallace once again while at Alabama. De’Antae Fuller, his childhood friend and high school teammate was murdered before Wallace’s junior year.

“It’s hard, but now I play for them,” said Wallace.  “I wear my best friend’s wristband. Called his mom and talked to her yesterday and everyone gets through it together.”

Wallace used his aching heart as fuel on the football field. He became a starter on the Alabama football team his senior year, helping them win a national championship. After going undrafted, he became a starter for the Bills during his rookie season.

Wallace chose to wear the jersey number 39 to honor Fuller. When the two played together in high school, Fuller wore the number 8 and Wallace wore 32. He combined those to get to 40. In Fuller’s senior year, he switched to number 1, so Wallace subtracted one to get to 39.

“This is my number. I’m going to stick with it,” said Wallace.  “I’m not just playing for me. He wanted to be in the NFL as well and he was a great player–better than me–so I’m playing for the both of us now. “