President Joe Biden offers stirring tribute to the late Franco Harris

President Joe Biden released a statement Wednesday paying tribute to Pittsburgh Steelers great Franco Harris, who died at 72 overnight.

The president and Harris formed an emotional bond, coincidentally, 50 years ago.

Biden’s statement from The White House:

It was this week fifty years ago when my first wife and infant daughter were killed and my two young sons were badly injured in a car accident while they were out getting a Christmas tree. I had just been elected to the U.S. Senate and I was in Washington when I got the call and rushed home to Delaware.

I rarely left my boys’ bedside until they got better. But one day I did to go shopping for them. When I returned, they were smiling for the first time since the accident. Art Rooney, the generous and honorable owner of the Steelers, had flown out with a couple of players, including Franco, and the tough as nails Rocky Bleier. Busy with their own lives, they took the time to be with my boys, sign footballs, and then left with no publicity. A small act of kindness that meant the world to us.

Sports have a powerful way of bringing people together. As families gather for Christmas this weekend, there will be countless Pittsburgh Steeler and Penn State fans sharing stories of Franco with their children and grandchildren who will discover his greatness on the field. But I know there will also be countless families like mine that will remember him for all that he did to lift our spirits when we needed it – in the most quiet, personal, and American of ways. We don’t have to ask. We show up. We reach out. We share a compassion that is a source of our enduring strength as a nation.

The last few times I saw Franco were in September and November of 2020 on the campaign trail in Latrobe and Pittsburgh. This week of all weeks, my family remembers him and keeps him close to our hearts.

May God bless, Franco Harris – a dear friend, a good man, and a great American.

May God bless the love of his life Dana, their family, and all of Steeler Nation.

Harris campaigned for Biden on Nov. 3, 2020:

We need Joe Biden. Joe Biden shows respect to every single American. And as Mrs. Rogers says, he’s kind. And remember what Art Rooney, the chief, always said, don’t mistake kindness for weakness. Joe Biden is a man who has already faced a pandemic, a man who has turned an economic crisis around. He worked with world leaders and our allies. Experience does matter. Being on the job and being up to the job matters.

Story originally appeared on Touchdown Wire