THIS WEEK IN PRINT: Tough People Win!

THIS WEEK IN PRINT: Tough People Win!

PHOTO: Coach Sam Graham with his wife and four daughters. (Contributed photo by Sam Graham) 

By Marla Jones, Sports Editor

SYLVANIA, Ala. — Many times, you meet a person who gives you a whole new outlook on life. Coach Sam Graham is that kind of person. Despite being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), he keeps fighting everyday.

Graham graduated from Sylvania High School and continued his education at UNA. As a linebacker for UNA, he played on three National Championship teams. While at UNA, his roommate was Cody Gross. They formed a friendship that still is strong today. After graduation, Graham served as a Graduate Assistant for the UNA football program. He was then offered the head coaching position at his alumni, Sylvania. He has helped mold and shape many a young man's life as a coach and friend at the University of North Alabama, Albertville, The University of West Alabama, Oxford, Valley Head, and recently at Athens High School where he coached with best friend and former roommate, Cody Gross.

Coach Graham noticed a change in his health around 2007. He felt sure it was caused by the many years on the football field. He started noticing his mobility was decreasing and his vision was worsening.  After a check by his team doctor, it was recommended that he visit a neurologist. After many tests, Graham was diagnosed with MS.

Since the diagnosis, Coach Graham has fought the battle without stop for many years. Recently, the Grahams looked into a special treatment called, “Lemtrada,” to give him some relief from the disease. The family is very optimistic about the success of this program. It was uncertain that the insurance would cover the cost of this treatment which is estimated to be around $110,000.  A few days ago, the family received the great news that it would indeed be covered.  

Longtime friend and roommate, Coach Cody Goss decided to begin a fundraiser that will help the Graham family with costs related to Coach Graham’s condition. One particular thing that the family is currently working on is remodeling their home for easier access.  A YouCaring page  ( has been established to help the family with any expenses for remodeling their home and expenses that might not be covered through the Lemtrada treatment.  

“I am very humbled by this,” said Coach Sam Graham. “There are many people that are far worse than I am and I ask God to help them everyday.”

Coach Graham shows true character despite adversity. One of the many sayings that he tells his players is, “Tough People Win." Sam is tough and he will win.  If you would like to donate to help the Grahams, please go to

Coach Graham, you and  your family are in our thoughts and prayers. We look forward to seeing you back on the field coaching, soon!