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November 24, 2017

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prep football:

Soon-to-be UNLV QB Joe Portaro playing all-star game with heavy heart after brother’s shooting death


File photo

Faith Lutheran High and UNLV commit Joe Portaro during the spring of his junior year in high school.

Reward fundraiser

KSNV coverage of fundraiser to up the reward in the slaying of Michael Portaro outside a Las Vegas brewery, May 28, 2011.

Surveillance Footage in Tenaya Creek Brewery Shooting

Surveillance footage taken on the night of March 30 at the Tenaya Creek Brewery.

Joe Portaro should be spending all his energy preparing for fall camp with the UNLV football team.

The freshman walk-on quarterback from Faith Lutheran High in Las Vegas should be becoming more familiar the Rebels’ playbook, getting stronger in the gym and spending extra time on the field working on his throws.

Instead, he’s still trying to come to terms with the death of his older brother, Mikey Portaro. He was found dead from multiple gunshot wounds March 30 outside the Tenaya Creek Brewery, near Tenaya Way and Cheyenne Avenue. He had been in the area selling tickets to an upcoming concert. He was 22.

Joe Portaro’s preparation for his next challenge on the gridiron involves his brother. That challenge is 7 p.m. Saturday when Portaro leads the Sunset Region in the 40th West Charleston Lions Club Charity All-Star High School Football Game at Bishop Gorman High School.

“Football in my family has always been huge,” Portaro said. “My brother made that my life. Every day, he would wake me up and say, ‘Let’s go throw.’ I’d say ‘OK’ and we’d be on the field.”

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Portaro is the most prolific passer in Faith Lutheran’s history, throwing for 2,871 yards and 24 touchdowns last fall in his senior season. Mikey Portaro also was a quarterback at Faith Lutheran, leading the Crusaders to the best season in school history in 2005 when they finished 8-2 and narrowly lost in the 3A state semifinals to Virgin Valley High.

“Oh man, could he throw the ball,” longtime Faith Lutheran coach Jake Kothe said of Mikey Portaro. “They both have unbelievable arms.”

The comparisons don’t stop there. Joe Portaro idolized his brother and took great pride in continuing the family’s legacy at Faith Lutheran.

“From the way I stand, the way I walk, talk and move, just everything I learned from him. Then, I got a little better than him, and that pissed him off,” Portaro said with a smile.

There have been few smiles since Mikey Portaro was killed. Police still have no suspects or solid information in the case. Family and friends held fundraisers last week to add to a $30,000 reward.

“It’s hard not to think about it on a day-to-day basis,” said Portaro, whose wrists are decorated with remembrance bracelets of his brother. “Most of the time I’m able to block it out and get through what I need to get through.”

The support of family and friends, especially those in the Faith Lutheran community, has been humbling for the Portaros.

“I didn’t realize how many close friends we had until they were all at our house,” he said. “At one point, there had to have been 300 people there.”

Portaro hopes to give them a few hours of enjoyment Saturday.

“I’m excited for him to be out here playing one more time, not only representing his family, but the Faith family as well,” Kothe said.

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