MAKING MARY PORTER PROUD
“THERE’S NO QUESTION IN MY MIND I WOULD BE WHERE I AM… HAD IT NOT BEEN FOR HER”
It’s about putting in the work. And having the right people on your team to inspire you.
For Shannon Sharpe, that was his grandmother, Mary Porter. Much more than just the woman who raised him, she was the woman who instilled in Shannon the tireless work ethic and drive for success that made him who he is today.
Growing up in Glenville, Georgia, Shannon recalled hearing Mary talk about how hard she had worked to provide for her own nine children. She would take in washing nearly every day of the week, with only a brief respite for church on Sunday. And once she returned from services, more washing would be brought over. She knew that refusing or taking a break would mean that work would stop coming in – and she knew she needed to support her family.
And he saw firsthand her dedication to raising her three grandchildren. Shannon, Sterling, and their sister Libby understood how much their grandparents had done for their mother and her siblings and experienced how much they gave to their mother’s children now. It wasn’t easy growing up in their 1,000 square foot cinder block home, but there was an unspoken devotion to one another.
“I became the player, I became the person, I became the man that I am because of that 1,000 square foot cinder block home”
From a young age, the siblings worked from ‘can’t to can’t’ – from the time you can’t see before sunrise to the time you can’t see after dark. The brothers worked tobacco rows on nearby farms, herded livestock, and waged an ongoing competition to see who could mow the lawn more quickly, all to support their two shared goals: playing football and giving something back to the woman who had given them everything.
When the brothers began their illustrious careers, Mary was foremost in their minds. It was often her words that would come to them when they needed guidance, and they would often wonder what they could do for her, not just to show how much they appreciated her but to make her life a little easier.
As a child, Shannon had once asked Mary what he could buy for her when he was rich and famous. He’d thought she might ask for a car and driving lessons, or the wedding ring her husband hadn’t been able to purchase. But Mary didn’t have dreams of big jewelry or fancy cars – she simply told Shannon about her wish to sleep through a night of heavy rain and wake up completely dry. To have a home where a storm didn’t mean putting burlap sacks on the beds and pots under the cracks in the ceiling. She didn’t have her sights on someplace palatial, just her own idea of a decent home.
Sometimes, it’s the simple things that mean the most to the people we care about. And achieving those seemingly small successes with their support can mean everything.
Le Portier honours the bond between family, the drive for success, and the woman who made it all possible – Mary Porter.