Both homes are family businesses. The Georgia facility is run by Blount's brother, Clinton; his mother, Alice, who is 102 years old, patrols the grounds on her golf cart, "fixes biscuits" and even accompanies the boys on fishing trips. In Pennsylvania, TiAnda is executive vice president, and the Blounts' three sons, Akil, 14, Jibri, 12, and Khalid, 11, help with chores, groom the horses, and play pickup hoops and football with the residents, who live in cabins behind the family house.
Running the homes doesn't come cheap—annual expenses for the Pennsylvania facility are nearly $1.8 million. When the economy improves, Blount plans to begin a $10 million capital campaign to build a gym and multipurpose facility. An avid horseman, he holds a benefit rodeo on the Pennsylvania property each summer. Most of the homes' funds, though, are raised through an annual roast held at a downtown Pittsburgh hotel and emceed by Steelers Hall of Famer Lynn Swann.
The affair attracts more than 1,000 donors, and it doubles as a reunion for the members of those great Steelers teams. Dozens of players, coaches and staff grudgingly throw on a tux, rip on a teammate—defensives tackles Joe Greene and John Banaszak and safety Donnie Shell are the three most recent roastees—and catch up. "I say only half-jokingly that players today start foundations; players from the '70s and '80s give time to things they believe in," says Swann, now a Pittsburgh businessman and an unsuccessful Republican candidate for governor in 2006. "For [Blount] to do this after a successful football career, to still have this passion and commitment, I think we're all happy to support that."
Mel isn't quite so sure he sees it that way. "People say, 'You were an NFL player, Super Bowls and all that, and now you run a home for boys—that's amazing,'" he says. "But there's a lot of similarities. You're on a team, you do your job, you're part of something bigger than yourself. And when you have success, it's a great feeling, man."
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Blount on Blount: Read Roy Blount Jr.'s 1983 profile of Mel Blount at SI.com/bonus