The Short of It
Kazzie Portie's parents died in a car crash just a week before his high school graduation. Although he says not having his mom and dad see him receive his diploma was a big blow, the attendance of a surprise guest made a huge impact on Portie that day.
Riley and Emily Portie were killed 1 week ago when their motorcycle was hit by a drunk driver. The Texas parents have five kids, including Kazzie, the youngest and the only one who lives at home.
"I'd just gotten off from work, and I had called my parents a couple of times to see where they were. Ten minutes after the call, Lieutenant [Eric] Ellison showed up to the house to break the news," Portie told Yahoo Parenting.
The timing of their death must have been devastating for the young man, who says graduation was what his parents had been talking about nonstop leading up to the big day.
"I know my parents were very proud of me," he says.
Portie mentioned to Lt. Ellison that he was about to graduate, and the officer promised to attend. But the grief-stricken teen wasn't 100 percent sure the officer would make it.
Well, on the big day, Ellison was there; in fact the cop was the first person to hug Portie onstage after he received his diploma. You can see the touching moment, including the standing ovation and deafening applause Portie received after his name was called, on his brother Blake Henning's Facebook page.
Portie's older brother, who is a firefighter, wrote this message along with the video:
"This was such a special moment. Thank you class of 2015 for making this such a memorable occasion for our family. So proud of you @kazz418 I love you so much. Throughout all of this you have been so strong and we are so proud of you. Thank you for being such a great brother. I am so excited to see what the future holds for you. I know mom and bubba are so proud of you. Again, love you brother and thank you for being who you are."
Henning also wrote this about Ellison:
"Words can't express how thankful our family is of you. You are the definition of a great [law enforcement officer]. Thank you brother for all you do and all the others who worked this accident. I wish more stories like this made the headlines of my brothers and sisters in blue."
The support Portie received from Ellison and his peers at graduation meant a lot to him. He confesses it was all he could do not to cry as he accepted his diploma.
The brave young man also said, "I'm not going to use all this an excuse to go down a bad road. I'm using this as an excuse to make my parents proud."
We have no doubt they will be.
As for Ellison, he wants everyone to know it is Portie who is the true hero in this situation. On his own Facebook page he wrote:
"I just want everybody to remember that through this tragedy, this was ALL about Kazzie and his day to shine. I just did what I would want someone to do if I had left my girls early. The LC-M Class of 2015 and the LC-M community made that happen. Please keep ALL the Portie family in your prayers as they go forward from this tragedy. God Speed Kaz, you've got a great future ahead of you."
Portie and Ellison plan to keep in touch.
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