More than just words: Gurley’s messages reveal his true character

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Everything you need to know about Noah Gurley is written in black Sharpie.

Normally a quiet leader on and off the floor, Gurley uses his shoes to express who he really is on the court. On both of his sneakers, the senior writes multiple reminders that he’ll look at from time to time. The brief notes and sayings reflect more than just who is on the basketball court; it also portrays who Gurley is — the son of a preacher who was born in South Carolina.

“The first thing I wrote on my shoe was ‘All work, no luck’ to motivate myself to work in the games,” Gurley said. “It’s realizing that things aren’t going to happen, you got to make them happen. … Usually I’ll write ‘God’s Child,’ I’ll write ‘TGBTG,’ to God be the glory and then ‘Everything counts on the last day’

“I grew up in a church and my dad was a pastor so I always write small things like that to just remind me I’m blessed. If I’m frustrated or do something I just look down at my shoes. It’s just a good reminder for me.”

When Gurley moved to Fayette County, Georgia he was already heavily involved with the church, spending every Sunday and Wednesday learning the gospel while watching his father preach.

It sparked Gurley’s interest to get further involved with the church as he took on multiple roles from a youth deacon, manning the camera and yes even trying out to be the church’s drummer.

“It didn’t work out, I didn’t practice enough,” Gurley said of his shortlived career as a percussionist. “To be honest, it was good because a lot of kids my age and under get out of it and go through an independence phase. You know when it’s your dad preaching you have to listen. Watching him get up there and preach was very inspiring.”

The hours spent at the church listening to his dad’s sermons permeated throughout Gurley’s life including basketball. With the forward being named one of the team’s captains, Gurley turned to his faith and his family to help him adjust to the new role.

“I’m just trying to expand my knowledge on leadership because I don’t know everything,” Gurley said. “My dad and my mom, who was the head of an agency in Atlanta so they just gave me their knowledge and I just try to apply it in whichever way I can. … (Alabama) is a family so it’s not that hard. I haven’t butted heads with anybody. They told me that they look up to me so I’m just trying to help them in whatever way I can.”

According to Alabama head coach Nate Oats, Gurley’s contributions as a leader have helped a young Alabama team stay on track throughout the trials and tribulations it has faced this season. Prior to the 2022 season, Oats challenged the forward to be more outspoken with the team by holding players accountable in practice and becoming a mentor to the team’s freshman.

Oats said he’s already seen an improvement from last season to this season which has helped Alabama to its best ranking in more than 20 seasons.

“It’s been a lot better,” Oats said of Gurley’s leadership. “I told him ‘You’ve got a lot of knowledge and played a lot of college basketball games, these freshmen are looking to some guys who have experience in college.’ As long as he plays unselfish and plays hard, guys will respect him. … He’s in the gym as much as anybody on this team. He’s mature and he’s starting to speak up, be more vocal, be a better leader and we need it.”