Fund created to help storm victims

Alabama coach Anthony Grant and his staff spent Friday afternoon passing out supplies to families throughout the hardest-hit areas of Tuscaloosa from the deadly tornado that ravaged the state Wednesday.

Now he's hoping to do even more.

Grant created a fund Friday morning at Bryant Bank in Tuscaloosa in response to the countless text messages he said he received from colleagues in the college basketball community asking how they can help those in need. The storm is blamed for 316 deaths in six Southern states. A reported 36 people died in Tuscaloosa alone, according to an official report.

"We're trying to do whatever we can to help buy meals, anything since these people lost everything,'" said Grant by phone as he was driving away from the devastation Friday. "Some people were smart enough to leave their homes but they came back to rubble."

Grant said the fund is called the Sweet Home Fund, with the mission to rebuild Alabama and help Alabama families who suffered through the tragedy.

"I had a chance to go through the areas and I cannot imagine what they're showing on TV but it won't do it justice," Grant said. "It's unbelievable."

Grant said there had been reports of a number of possible tornadoes before the one that struck Wednesday. He said he left campus at 4 p.m. to be with his family but the tornado didn't strike his home or do much damage on campus. He said several players stayed at Coleman Coliseum for protection. Grant said that while the athletes were safe, a number of their families in other parts of the state lost homes.

Grant just finished his second season at Alabama after coaching at VCU. Grant, a former assistant at Florida, led the Tide to the SEC West title with a 12-4 conference record. Alabama didn't make the NCAA tournament but reached the NIT title game, losing to Wichita State in the final and finishing with a 25-12 record.

Grant said the men's basketball office can help facilitating with the fund upon requests.

"I want to do everything I can to help everyone here," said Grant, who was on his way to a telethon in Birmingham. "This is going to be in the forefront of our minds for a long time to come."

Andy Katz is a senior college basketball writer for ESPN.com.