Jason Quick of The Oregonian writes that Portland Trail Blazers All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge gave back to the community this week, providing 100 turkey dinners to local-area families.
Her name is Shayanne Akles, a 17-year-old junior at Parkrose High, who on most days is bouncing about the Police Activities League center on the corner of Northeast 172nd and Glisan, easy with a smile and quick to help tutor a fellow student with English homework.
"I'm really good at English," she says.
But the first time Aldridge saw Akles, she was weeping.
It was Oct. 20, at the Trail Blazers' annual Hoops & Heart dinner, a fundraiser and auction for the team's Make It Better Foundation. In front of Blazers players, front office staff and season-ticket holders, Akles was on stage, talking about the importance of the PAL center. Not only does it provide a place for kids to play basketball and air hockey, she said, but it also offers kids computer training and tutoring. For many, it is often the only place where they get a meal that day.
Suddenly, Aldridge became enraptured. As a youth, he said he often went to sleep hungry. His mother worked hard, but sometimes, it wasn't enough to feed him and his brother.
Sarah Hecht of Blazers.com with more here.
I watched as Aldridge personally handed out turkeys and boxes full of all the fixin's for a traditional holiday meal. When he was done making sure everyone had their food he moved on to spending quality time with the hundreds of kids in the building. He took every moment necessary to sign autographs on t-shirts, notebooks and even the shoes of kids' feet.
"Where I grew up it was like this," Aldridge said. "To have anybody come in my neighborhood and do this, I would have loved it. This was fun for me."
Aldridge grew up living a very different lifestyle than he is now. There were nights when his family could've used a box of food to satiate their hungry stomachs. "We had nights where we didn't have anything to eat," he said. "That's why giving back at Thanksgiving and Christmas, that's why that means a lot to me. I think about those days and nights where I was hungry.
"It's horrible, that's a very helpless feeling."
Thanks to Roy Wonder in the FanShots.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter