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Bobby Portis' foundation assists single moms

By: Richard Davenport
Published: Tuesday, August 6, 2019
Former Arkansas basketball player and Chicago Bulls power forward Bobby Portis speaks to reporters during a press conference, Monday, May 21, 2018 at Shadow Valley Country Club in Rogers.
Photo by Charlie Kaijo
Former Arkansas basketball player and Chicago Bulls power forward Bobby Portis speaks to reporters during a press conference, Monday, May 21, 2018 at Shadow Valley Country Club in Rogers.

While growing up, Bobby Portis saw his mother work endless hours to provide for him and his siblings.

Tina Edwards inspired Portis to form the Bobby Portis Foundation to assist single moms in central Arkansas and beyond.

"It's always been a targeted goal of mine since I was a little boy," Portis said. "I always have a passion for my mom and what she did for me and all the hard work she put in for me and my little brothers to make sure we were all right."

Portis starred at Little Rock Hall before signing with the University of Arkansas. He was named SEC Player of the Year as a sophomore, declared for the NBA Draft and was taken by the Chicago Bulls with the 22nd pick in 2015. He was traded to the Washington Wizards in February and recently signed a two-year contract with the New York Knicks.

Going on 10 years, Edwards has operated a bread route in the Little Rock area that requires her to get up at 3 a.m. On some days, she wouldn't get home until 8 p.m. She did whatever she could to help Portis reach his goals of playing at the University of Arkansas and in the NBA.

"She would be at work all day on very little sleep and she would pick me up from practice," Portis said. "She would take me to the next gym to work out, and I would come outside and my mom would be sleeping in the car, just trying to get some rest."

Edwards often helped Portis and his three younger brothers -- Jamaal, Jared and Jarod -- with homework while also cooking dinner.

"Then she would get two to four hours of sleep, and she would get up and do it all over again," said Portis, who noted Jarod will be a freshman at Arkansas this fall. "I got my work ethic from my mom, for sure."

The foundation will be headed up by his mother along with help from Portis' mentor Marcus McCarroll and his manager Patrick Frazier.

"It's going to make sure [single mothers] have a little help along the way," Portis said. "I think everybody just needs that extra little push, that little extra help to help them get over the hump, and I think I can help provide that."

The foundation will start off by helping 10 families a year.

"We're going to try and target Little Rock in general because that's where I grew up, and then we're going to expand out each and every year," Portis said. "Try and make it bigger and better."

Several people have reached out to Portis, including members of the former Razorbacks staff.

"Here lately, I've had a lot of people to reach out to me to be a part of it," Portis said. "Coach [Mike] Anderson, TJ Cleveland, Coach [Matt] Zimmerman. I've had over 20 people say they want to be a part of this."

Edwards plans to quit her current job in a couple of months.

"I've been doing bread nine-and-a-half years," Edwards said. "It's been a great job, great ride, but my last day working with them is October the 12th."

She plans to take a couple of months off to spend time with her teenage sons and attend more of Bobby's games

"I'll take me a couple of months off, and then I'll probably find me another little job because I can't see myself just sitting still," Edwards said.

The foundation will have a basketball camp for grades 1-6 and 7-12 this Friday, followed by a bowling event at night. A community event at Wild River Country in North Little Rock will be held Saturday afternoon, and the foundation kickoff celebration will be at the Clinton Presidential Library that evening.

A celebrity basketball game is set for 2 p.m. on Sunday, and the weekend will conclude with the foundation's community party that night. For more information, go to bobbyportis.com.

Email Richard Davenport at rdavenport@arkansasonline.com

Sports on 08/06/2019

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