BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — One LSU family captured the hearts of fans when a picture went viral. Baby Stephen McKenzie is being held with his feet in a box of dirt. Some might argue it’s holy ground. The soil came from outside Alex Box Stadium, according to Stephen’s father, Rhett.
In the Facebook post, Rhett said, “He was born in Alabama, but no way could he first touch Alabama ground.”
Rhett said his parents “got a few handfuls of dirt in a Ziplock bag before heading to Alabama.” Stephen was born on July 30, 2012, in Birmingham.
According to Rhett, “Less than 24 hours after he was born, my mom pulled out the soil in the hospital room, and she held him while placing his feet in the soil.”
The picture sat on Facebook for seven years before it went viral. Rhett said right before the magical 2019 season, he got thousands of notifications on Facebook.
Their story doesn’t end there.
LSU love is point of pride for family
Stephen got a sister three years after he was born. Madi Beth completed the family. Did she go through the same rite of LSU passage?
“No,” Rhett said. “That was a firstborn privilege, and by the time she came, we were doing good just to get home and settled.”
Rhett is a lifelong LSU fan whose father, grandfather, aunts, and uncles all went to LSU. According to Rhett, his father saw Billy Cannon’s famous run, and his uncle played baseball for Skip Bertman at LSU. Rhett said he did some basketball drills with “Pistol Pete” Maravich in sixth grade.
Rhett’s wife Lauren grew up a Bama fan.
In case you were wondering, the dirt must have worked. Stephen has chosen to root for the Tigers. Madi Beth is also a fan, and Rhett said his “wife has now ended up wearing yellow” to LSU vs Alabama games.
Picture is part of boy’s story, family history
So how does Stephen feel a few years after the picture went viral? Rhett said he loves it.
“It is still something he tells people when asked to tell them an interesting fact about him,” according to Rhett.
Stephen attended his first LSU football game in 2021 when the Tigers played Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
The viral photo has taken on a life of its own over the years. Billy Cannon would again intersect with the McKenzie family. This time, the LSU legend autographed a copy of the viral picture after hearing the story behind it, according to Rhett.
The family has dropped one of their traditions around the LSU-Alabama rivalry. Rhett said when Stephen and Madi Beth were younger, they “would go around Birmingham declaring ‘roll tide is dirty words.’”
With that likely not happening again, what does the future hold for the McKenzies and their LSU fandom?
Rhett would like to take the entire family to an LSU-Alabama game. He said that they have gone to baseball and basketball games between the two teams but not football.