October 27, 2011
David Robinson Stands Tall
I read about another really amazing athlete when looking up Larry Fitzgerald from last week. David Robinson is so community minded that there is now an award given monthly to charitable basketball players that is named after him!
David Robinson was born the son of a military man, so he moved a lot as a kid, and he grew to love serving the country. He was also very athletic, becoming good at each sport except basketball. He tried it in Middle school, but didn't do well so he quit. But he kept growing taller. When he was a Senior in High School, he was 6 foot 7 inches tall and approached by the coach to join the team. But he had never played organized Basketball! He learned quickly and did well, but didn't think he'd go any further in Basketball. The NBA showed little interest in him too.
He was a smart kid and worked hard in school. After graduating from High School, he was accepted into the U.S. Naval Academy to study Mathematics. He played Basketball for them, eventually growing to 7 feet tall while attending college. He was considered the best player the Academy ever had! He received all kinds of awards there and the nickname 'The Admiral.' After graduating, he was drafted into the NFL and chosen by the San Antonion Spurs. But they would have to wait until he served two years for the Navy as part of his commitment to the Academy.
The Spurs waited, and although David was tempted to become a free agent and look for a better offer, he stayed with his original draft pick and played with the Spurs. He played well enough that he earned a spot on the 1992 Olympic Basketball team nicknamed the Dream Team. He was named one of the best Basketball players of all time by the NBA among so many other awards I won't even try to list them. Basically he was awarded every award that the NBA awards.
But the big reason I'm impressed with him is because he inspired and helped kids to go to college. In 1991, his second year playing for the Spurs, he spoke at a middle school in San Antonio. He urged the 90 kids in attendance to go to college and promised them that if they did, he'd give them each $2000 towards their college funds. Then he visited the school often, arranged for tutors for the students who needed them, even arranged pool parties. In 1998 he awarded one third of those students scholarships to college, but surprised them by giving each of them $8000! One of the kids, Tyrone Darden, said, "It definitely motivated us. It was not just a guy stopping by for publicity. Seeing all the great things he did opened my eyes to the impact I could have on my community. He pushed me to do more with my life just by being a part of it."
Doing the math, that's more than $240 thousand dollars. That is a lot of money, but much less than he also donated to a school he and his wife founded in San Antonio called 'George Washington Carver Academy.' They have given more than $11 million to that school. That's the most any athlete has ever give to one charity. And that must be what prompted the NBA to name an award after him. It's the 'NBA Community Assist Award,' now renamed the "David Robinson Placque" with the inscription, "Following the standard set by NBA legend David Robinson who improved the community piece by piece."
This 7 foot tall man is even taller in character. He was abundantly blessed with a good mind and an athletic body, but he didn't let the fame these gifts gave him to go to his head. He is a kind man too, giving to those who need it more.
He's featured on a website called 'Heroes for Humanity.com' and in an article by Rickie Adams, honored thus. "His gentle demeanor and genuine sportsmanship are a fresh force in a sport that is often dominated by tattoos, expletives and half-court brawls… With a seven-foot frame that somehow exudes grace and a heart of pure gold, David Robinson is a true role model in a world of false idols. We salute 'The Admiral' and his steadfast efforts to improve the lives of those in his community who might not have a fighting chance for success without his compassion."
Adams, Rickie. “David Robinson: It’s a Beautiful Day in Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood.” Heroes For Humanity.com Web. 24 Oct 2011.
“David Robinson.” Wikipedia n. page. Web. 24 Oct 2011.
Doyle, Amanda. “Class Act.” Sports Illustrated Kids October 2011:45. Print.