Robinson Has Emotional Night In First Game Back Since His Mother's Passing

Jan. 30, 2011

Lawrence Kan. –

For Kansas sophomore Thomas Robinson, the past month has been one that none of the 16,300 fans inside Allen Fieldhouse could ever imagine enduring. After losing both grandparents on his mother’s side in a matter of weeks, the WashingtonD.C. native had to bury his 43-year old mother, Lisa Robinson, who died from an apparent heart attack just a week ago. With a heart heavier than the amount of tears he’s shed in the past four weeks, Robinson and his Jayhawk teammates, who accompanied their bereaved teammate to his mother’s funeral, boarded a plane to Kansas City, looking to shift their focus from grief to determination, as the wildcats from Kansas State awaited them at Allen Fieldhouse Saturday night.

Even though Robinson didn’t start his first game back in front of his home fans since the passing of his mother, the forward would make it clear that the night was his. Robinson entered the game early on in the first half to a standing ovation from the sellout crowd at the Fieldhouse.

“It was amazing,” Robinson said. “Coming into this game, I felt that I owed it to all the fans across the country to give it my all. They showed so much support in helping me get through this tough time.”

For the 6-foot-9 sophomore, his 17-point, six rebound and 7-for-8 performance from the field was the perfect way to say, ‘thank you,’ to the Jayhawk faithful on hand to see KU send its in-state rival back to Manhattan on the losing end of a 90-66 score.

“He was unbelievable,” said Head Coach Bill Self. “He was so fired up and played so hard.”

Despite Robinson’s energized performance he would head into the locker room at the half with just two points from two separate trips to the free throw line, meaning 15 of his final 17 points were yet to come.

With a little less than five minutes gone by in the second half, Robinson would connect on his first shot from the field to put his team up by 25 points. During the next minute, number zero would net four more points on another jumper and a lay-up to give him six total points in a slim 54-second stretch.

“It felt pretty good,” said Robinson, who hadn’t suited up for the Jayhawks since their 74-63 loss to Texas at Allen Fieldhouse a full seven days prior. “For somebody on this type of level to not be playing for that amount of time is unheard of, so I was anxious to get back out here and see the Fieldhouse again.”

The pent up energy of not playing finally came out of the sophomore, who after his half a dozen point spurt, added another six points with three emphatic dunks in the final seven plus minutes of play.

“We were really proud of him,” Coach Self said. “Our team was just happy to see him get on a roll there for a minute and play so well, with so much energy.”

“He did good,” said junior guard Tyshawn Taylor. “I knew it was only a matter of time before he started making shots that he was missing earlier in the game, so I’m happy for him.”

Asked after scoring the second highest point total of his career whether or not he considered sitting this one out, Robinson replied, “I played tonight because I knew that I couldn’t sit around too long. I knew my mom wouldn’t want me to sit around crying about it forever, so I have to keep going on and striving toward my goals.”

Agreeing with his grieving player, Coach Self said, “He needed to be out there. How the fans recognized him when he checked in and when he checked out were special moments that I’m sure he’ll never forget.”

For Robinson, Saturday night was another step in the long and arduous healing process, but he made it clear that the process would be that much tougher without the love and support of all the Jayhawk fans in Kansas and throughout the country.

“This past month has really opened my eyes to how amazing this place really is,” he said. “I can’t say thank you to everybody because it is physically impossible but I truly thank everyone for their support. It’s beyond words how I feel right now and how much love that I have for the University of Kansas and its fans.”