You can imagine how big of a thrill Alabama’s national championship season has been for him. You probably cannot imagine how big of a thrill for him it was to get a surprise visit from one of the biggest stars from that team, defensive lineman Terrence Cody.
“I was in tears right off the bat when he walked in through here. By no means did I expect Terrence to be coming through the door. It was just kind of more than we could stand at the time. He was smiling the whole time,” Ellis said.
Ellis is battling a life-threatening cancer, and though he was not expected to make it through last September, he continues to fight on to this day.
Cody was in Childersburg on Saturday for an autograph signing event, and thanks to some skillful negotiations by Ellis’s neighbor, Amy Barnett, Cody agreed to pay a visit to Ellis’s room at Coosa Valley Medical Center.
“This guy has a good heart,” Ellis’s wife, Mandy, said of Cody. “As big as he is, he has a very soft, kind voice. His manager said that anytime something touches his heart, he hangs with it. At one point while they were here, one of the people with him asked, ‘Are you ready to go?’ and he said, ‘Not with all these people here.’”
What the Ellis’s expected to be a 15-minute drop in turned into a visit that lasted over two hours.
“Daddy was in the chair, and (Cody) sat down right there next to him for the whole two-and-a-half hours. He never left Daddy’s side,” daughter Carrie Brooks said.
So what do you talk to Terrence Cody about for two-and-a-half hours? Well, football, of course. Ellis and his brother, Frankie, got all of the details about Cody’s block of a Tennessee field goal in the waning seconds of the rivalry game to preserve a hard-fought Alabama win.
They also got to learn a little information about the relationship between Cody and coach Nick Saban.
Frankie Ellis said, “I had heard a story about when Terrence first came to Alabama nobody ever sat by coach Saban on the bus. He sat right behind the driver. The first time Terrence got on the bus he sat down next to coach Saban and coach Saban asked him, ‘Son, do you want the window seat?’
“I asked him ‘Do you sit next to coach Saban on the bus? I heard you always did.’ He said, ‘I sure do. I sit by him on the bus, at the restaurant, at the movie theater, wherever we go.’ I asked him why he did that, and he said he just liked to aggravate him.”
Frankie Ellis added that Cody was also gracious enough to talk to friends and relatives over the phone and sign numerous autographs.
Outside of football the group talked about pets. Mandy Ellis said both Cody and his girlfriend, who was also present, are dog lovers and between them they own five dogs.
The whole event was a fun experience for those involved.
“The visit has lifted his spirits tremendously, and all of us, too,” Mandy Ellis said. “I could hardly get him into bed that night.”
Brooks added that during the whole experience of Mike Ellis’s illness, there have been plenty of tears of sadness, but Saturday’s experience brought out plenty of tears of joy.
Those who are interested in keeping up with Mike Ellis’s condition can visit www.caringbridge.org and click under the “Visit a Website” option on the right side of the Web page and enter the phrase “mikepupdogellis” as one word to visit a Web site to which the family posts updates.