PORT ALLEN — Grover Harrison III remembers what he told Tracy Porter when the New Orleans Saints cornerback signed his first pro contract three years ago.
“Money is a magnifier,” Harrison said he told Porter. “If you’re a bad person, it gives you an opportunity to do a lot of bad things. If you’re a good person, it gives you the opportunity to do more of the good things.”
Harrison was on hand Sunday at D.C.’s Grill as Porter, back home as the Saints enjoyed a bye week, celebrated an early Thanksgiving with needy families from the Port Allen area.
Porter treated the families to a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, reaching out to the community where he began his road to NFL stardom.
“I know what type of upbringing I had — it was tough,” Porter said. “I’m in a position where I can help others, and that’s something that I’m all about doing.”
Porter credits people like Harrison for making him the man he is today.
Harrison coached Porter in basketball and track and field at Port Allen Middle School, a mentor to Porter during his adolescent years. Porter later worked for Harrison as a lifeguard and camp counselor at the YMCA.
As they planned Sunday’s dinner, Harrison and Porter consulted with guidance counselors at area schools, searching for names of students who may not otherwise enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving.
Instead of having Porter deliver meals to the homes of the students, they decided to invite the families to D.C.’s for a sit-down dinner.
“We thought it would have more of an impact that way,” Harrison said.
The event gave the youngsters a chance to interact with their hometown hero, a former Port Allen High star who played a key role in bringing New Orleans its first Super Bowl title.
Known for creating takeaways on the field, Porter has also made the community proud by giving back.
Two years ago, for instance, he donned a Santa hat during the Christmas holidays and donated a truckload of bicycles to children in the neighborhood where he grew up.
Recently, he launched the Tracy Porter Pick Six Foundation, dedicated to providing youth with support systems, enrichment and mentoring activities.
Porter said the foundation will target kids throughout Louisiana.
“We’re just trying to teach the kids there are more things to do than just sitting in the house playing video games,” he said. “We want them to understand the importance of living a healthy lifestyle and staying active.”
Porter recognizes how much of an impact he can have with youngsters, especially the ones in his own hometown.
The street in Port Allen where he grew up has been named after him. The jersey number he wore at Port Allen High has been retired.
Signing an autograph here can mean so much. Sending a message can mean much more.
“Tracy was a good person when he didn’t have any money,” Harrison said. “Now that he has money and an opportunity to help more people, he does that.”