Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Saintly Christmas Gift

From the advocate dot com website

PORT ALLEN — As the big white moving truck made a right turn down Village Street followed by a shiny black Cadillac truck with tinted windows, residents of the Village Street Apartments let out a roar.

They knew who was driving the Cadillac even though they couldn’t see inside.

It was Port Allen native and second-year New Orleans Saints cornerback Tracy Porter returning to the city he grew up in to deliver gifts to the children from his old neighborhood, known as The Village.

“Feels good when you put a smile on kids’ faces,” Porter said as one young man jumped on his new bike and sped off without saying a word.

“This is a struggling area,” Porter said. “To come back here and see all these kids so happy just warms me up.”

Deshawn Raymond, 12, watched the scene from the side of the street sitting on top of his brand-new lime green bike.

“I feel special,” Raymond said. “Especially because it came from Tracy. He used to stay back here and baby-sit me.”

The event, was sponsored in part by the Baranco-Clark Branch YMCA in Baton Rouge.

Earlier in the day, before the bike giveaway, Porter was at the YMCA, where he worked as a lifeguard and summer camp counselor during his summer breaks from Port Allen High School.

In the past two years, Porter has donated $25,000 to the facility. On Monday, the YMCA returned the favor holding a small dedication ceremony in the facility’s newly revamped weight room dubbed the Tracy O. Porter YMCA Wellness Center.

His mentors and former coaches Curt Richardson and Grover Harrison were on hand at both events to help out and poke some fun at the football player.

“He’s a little guy but he’s always thought he was big,” Harrison said, laughing.

“When he was in high school, he wanted to run a (recreation) center like the YMCA and then go to the NBA. Now he’s in the NFL, and he’s giving back,” Harrison said.

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