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Suns share Thanksgiving with underserved at St. Vincent de Paul

Suns employees and community members gather in the dining room at St Vincent de Paul for Thanksgiving lunch Tuesday in Phoenix. (Photo by Andrew Chapman/ Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – Eddie Johnson remembers where he came from.

That’s why the former NBA player and Phoenix Suns color commentator joined Suns staff members and alumni to share Thanksgiving early with underserved families at the St. Vincent De Paul Society in central Phoenix.

Over 50 Suns employees, including the Suns mascot, the Gorilla, helped set up seating, greeted guests and served food in a community event Tuesday.

“You want to pay back, and that’s what I’m all about,” said Johnson. “I don’t forget how difficult it was for me to get to this point, and when I see people that need a boost and a positive influence I jump on it.”

Johnson grew up in Chicago, and is grateful that basketball helped him escape the hardships of that area.

“I’ve been so blessed and fortunate to have grown up in Chicago, to get out when the University of Illinois gave me a scholarship,” Johnson said. “The NBA took me in and I played for seven different teams, and then the Phoenix Suns hired me and I have been there ever since.”

St. Vincent de Paul serves over 1.2 million underserved families and individuals each year across the southwest.

Those in attendance showed their Suns pride wearing jerseys and bringing along memorabilia to be signed by Johnson and fellow former Suns player Steven Hunter.

Members of the team’s front office staff, including director of ticket sales Kyle Pottinger, served meals.

“We encourage all of our team members to get out of the office and contribute their own time to do something positive in the community,” Pottinger said. “It is a great opportunity for us to come together and build that sense of moral within the organization as well.”

Pottinger said the Suns staff was humbled by the experience.

“A lot of them were passionate Suns fans excited to have us here today and hopefully we could brighten up their Thanksgiving a bit,” Pottinger said.

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