Former Hoyas Star Buys Lunch for Homeless Man
by Stacy M. Brown
Special to the NNPA from The Washington Informer
Otto Porter Jr. has only received a small taste of the high life that comes with being a first round draft pick in the NBA.
He signed a non-guaranteed, four-year contract with the Washington Wizards in July that could pay him as much as $18 million.
However, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 draft and former Georgetown Hoya has yet to realize what it feels like to cash an NBA check. But that didn’t stop him from performing what has fast become the most talked-about act of kindness in the District of Columbia.
“It was just Otto being Otto,” said Hoyas coach John Thompson III. “I said it a lot last year when it came to the way he plays, but it’s also about the way he carries himself off the [court] too,” said Thompson, 47.
Michael Stein, a resident of Vienna, Va., first brought to the public’s attention Porter’s act of kindness that has earned the star forward praise inside and outside of the basketball world.
“I was eating a quick lunch at a table outside a local sandwich shop while a disheveled homeless man stood nearby, persistently and unsuccessfully asking anyone who walked by if he or she could spare a sandwich,” Stein said in a letter to the media.
After nearly 25 minutes had elapsed Porter drove up, hopped out of his car and entered the shop, Stein said.
“Porter soon exited with his sandwich and drink, but also with a sandwich, a bag of chips and a drink for the homeless man,” he said.
The kindness didn’t end there. Porter, 20, then sat down with the unidentified homeless man and the two enjoyed lunch and a conversation together.
“It was a wonderful thing to watch. This pure act of kindness, when no one was paying any attention, demonstrated true character and a genuine concern for someone in need,” Stein said.
Porter’s generosity occurred on Oct. 4, but in keeping with the low-key way in which those who know him said is his modus operandi, the Wizards forward has repeatedly declined requests to talk about that day.
A Wizards spokesman confirmed that it was indeed Porter who assisted the homeless man almost two weeks ago, but said the selfless act didn’t surprise the organization.
In a statement, team officials said, “Porter’s generosity and character speak for [itself].”
“I never had the honor of meeting Porter’s mother, but I did have the honor of meeting his father, Otto Porter Sr., and he was and still is a class act, decent, hard working and kind,” said Northwest resident Ellen Bollinger.
“Going out of his way to be kind to others is something that I’m sure is a family tradition. I have never forgotten Porter [Sr.] and his kindness to me many, many years ago. I hope his son has a great life,” Bollinger said.
The younger Porter, who left Georgetown after two stellar seasons, understands just how powerful the gentle touch of humanity can be, said Gabe Zaldivar, who covers basketball and other sports for The Bleacher Report.
“Porter is a 20-year-old kid about to embark on his NBA journey who not only found time to feed the hungry, but also to remind a homeless man that he’s still a human being and, homeless or not, we all need the comfort of a friend,” Zaldivar said.
Porter appeared in 33 games with the Hoyas and finished fourth in scoring on the team with 9.7 points per game.
He led the Hoyas with 6.8 rebounds per game while handing out 1.5 assists.
Born in St. Louis, Porter lists his father as the most influential person in his life. Prior to being drafted by the Wizards, team officials said they knew about his character.
“The rookie took a couple of moments and a few bucks out of his pocket just to make another person, someone forgotten and cast aside, feel welcome again,” Zaldivar said.
“It was a small gesture, but it made a huge impression on an anonymous man who just wanted a sandwich. This Porter kid is going to be mighty easy to root for this season.”