June 2, 2015 1:36 AM EDT

Telling a teenager that he’d just lost both his parents in an traffic collision may have been one of the hardest days of Eric Ellison’s life — but he knew it was much harder for that teenager, Kazzie Portie. So he went the extra mile by promising to attend the 18-year-old’s high school graduation in lieu of his parents.

Portie’s mother and father were killed by a drunk driver while riding on their motorcycle last month. Officer Ellison was assigned to share the bad news with next of kin, and he found Portie at home alone, according to BuzzFeed News. When Portie expressed how upset he was that his parents would miss his high school graduation, just a week away, Ellison reportedly said, “Your mom and dad will have front-row seats looking down from heaven, and I’ll stand in their place. I’ve got your back.”

He made good on that promise, and embraced Portie after he’d received his diploma. Portie told BuzzFeed he appreciated that Ellison “actually showed a genuine care for me and my family’s situation instead of us just being another ‘case.’”

[BuzzFeed News]

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