|Porter remembered as inspirational on and off the court|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 02 June 2007 16:58|
Porter, 58, died May 26, a week after he was found severely beaten in a Minneapolis alley. His death remains under investigation. No arrests have been made, and $25,000 in rewards has been offered for information leading to an arrest.
The crowd at St. James AME Church was standing room only. They spoke about Porter's celebrated college career, when he led Villanova to the 1971 NCAA championship game. Others remembered him as a kindhearted friend, who sang in the church choir, played cards and loved butter pound cake.
Porter had recovered from drug addiction and dedicated his life to helping troubled adults.
``Howard used his life as an example,'' said the Rev. Gloria Roach Thomas of Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church. ``He didn't mind sharing his story to motivate people. ... He'd say to people, 'If I could do this, you can do this.' ``
Porter was drafted 32nd overall by the Chicago Bulls in 1971, but his NBA career never fulfilled the promise he showed in college. He also played for Detroit and New York, but he began using drugs when his career flamed out.
He went to a drug treatment program at Hazelden in Center City, Minn., and decided to stay in Minnesota. He became a probation officer for Ramsey County in 1995, where he supervised adults who had been released from prison or sentenced to probation. He oversaw violent and nonviolent offenders, making sure they followed the law, as well as terms of their release.
Thomas and others also remarked upon Porter's ability to connect with anyone - from a millionaire basketball player to a former convict trying to turn his life around.
``He has been the tall man in so many, many ways,'' Ramsey County commissioner Toni Carter said.
``Not only was he a great basketball player, he was a great human being,'' said former Chicago Bulls player Bob Love, who donned his hat during his remarks to honor Porter's love for ``lids.''
The St. Paul service was the first of three remembrances of Porter's life. Services will be held next week at Villanova University in Pennsylvania and in Florida, where Porter was born and raised.