While for many Kansas fans (including me), a loss in Allen Fieldhouse and the end of a 69-game home win streak last week was tough to swallow. It’s actually small potatoes compared to the sudden loss of your 43-year-old mother.
The flurry of four technical calls seemed unfair on Saturday afternoon, but how fair was the call 19-year-old sophomore forward Thomas Robinson received from his 9-year-old sister, Jayla, at 11 p.m. on Friday night?
Yet, T-Rob laced up his sneaks and played against the Texas Longhorns just hours after learning of his mother’s tragic death.
Teammates. Friends. Family.
Just three weeks after burying his grandma, Thomas buried his grandpa on Tuesday and said goodbye to his mom on Thursday. The Kansas Jayhawks flew to D.C. to pay respect and support their teammate as he and his sister laid their mom to rest with Thomas’ Kansas jersey and a Jayhawk stuffed animal.
According to an article by Gary Parrish on CBSSports.com, the Kansas community would like to see Thomas and Jayla together. However, it was uncertain if the university members and boosters would be able to financially support to the Robinson family based on rules and regulations.
“We understand they have rules, but [the NCAA is] trying to make as many allowances within the rules as they can,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “With this situation and as much hardship as there is, I think the NCAA is looking out for the student-athlete first. I can’t say anything remotely negative at all about how this has been handled by them.”
On Wednesday, the NCAA granted a number of waivers from its bylaws to allow the University of Kansas to aid Thomas and Jayla in light of this tragedy. Kansas was allowed to pay for funeral services for Thomas’ mom and Jayla was able to return to Lawrence at Kansas’ expense.
A Sweet Homecoming
Just missing one game (against Colorado on Wednesday), Thomas returned home from his tough week to the love and support of his teammates and an entire Jayhawk Nation. In a letter to fans, he wrote:
“I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support that has been shown to me and my family over the past few weeks and especially this past week. I don’t know if I could have made it through the week without the support of my teammates, coaches, administration, KU and all the fans.”
Proudly adorned with a “LR” patch on his jersey, Thomas took the court just two days after his mother’s funeral to honor her. After a few missed shots and some quick fouls, he rebounded and ended the game with 17 points in a win against Kansas State.
“I know my mother wouldn’t want me to sit around crying forever. Coming into this game, I felt that I owed it to all the fans and all the people across the country that have helped me get through this hard time.”
In lieu of flowers and other gifts, a college scholarship has been created to support T-Rob’s sister, Jayla:
Lisa Robinson Scholarship Fund
c/o SNR Denton
1301 K Street, N.W.
Suite 600, East Tower
Washington, D.C. 20005-3364