Thomas Robinson

Amidst the “Madness,” one cannot help but cheer for Thomas Robinson regardless of the pick on their bracket.

The 6-foot-10-inch University of Kansas Jayhawks forward has thrived throughout his junior season despite being thrust into the public eye for the past year after the deaths of his beloved mother and grandparents.

His mother, Lisa Robinson, was 43 when she passed away of a heart attack on January 21, 2011.  Robinson’s grandparents, who had helped his mother raise him, both passed away in earlier in the same month.

Collectively, Robinson lost most of his family in four short weeks. His 9-year-old half-sister, Jayla, lives halfway across the country with her father and is the only biological family member he has left.

Just one day after the unexpected death of his single mother, Robinson remained with his teammates to play against Texas, which demonstrated his toughness and dedication to his teammates and the Jayhawk nation.

For a young man who lost his entire family besides his sister, Robinson has been able to gain peace with his situation through basketball, the support of his Jayhawk “family” and his willingness to provide for Jayla.

Last season Robinson came off the bench as the sixth man, but this year he earned a starting position while becoming arguably the best player on the elite Jayhawks squad.

In the 2011-2012 season Robinson averages 18 points and 12 rebounds per game.

Robinson’s teammates and coaches have remained supportive throughout the tough journey without his family.  The entire team attended the funeral of his mother in Washington D.C. last season.  This season, his teammates continue to be inspired by his unprecedented ability to overcome adversity.

“Some people would kind of, you know, go the opposite way and feel like they don’t have anything to work for now. He kind of had a different approach, like, you know I got to go even harder now,” said guard Tyshawn Taylor.

Robinson’s motivation comes from his sister Jayla, as he hopes to gain custody from her father and give her all the love and support she deserves.

He will likely be picked in the top 5 of the NBA draft and earn a salary of about 4 million dollars per year, a portion of the money earned will be used to support Jayla.

“For me to feel comfortable the best way to do that was to be able to reach my lifetime dream and doing that will be able to take care of her,” he said.

NBA General Managers will not pick Robinson out of pity, but they will draft him because of his willingness to succeed and raw talent on the court.

Robinson won the Big 12 Player of the Year award and the Player of the Year award.  He is nominated for the Nasmith Trophy among many of the league’s greats including Anthony Davis of Kentucky, Draymond Green on Michigan State and Doug McDermott of Creighton.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever had anybody that I respected more for how he’s taken an unbelievable situation and somehow spun it in a way that betters his life moving forward,” Kansas coach Bill Self said.

On Sunday, Robinson scored 18 points and 9 rebounds while leading his team to an 80-67 victory over the No. 1 seed University of North Carolina Tarheels.  The Jayhawks will advance to the Final Four to play against the Ohio State Buckeyes.

This March, I am cheering for the Kansas Jayhawks because if anyone deserves to lead their team to a national championship it is Thomas Robinson.

So, Rock Chalk Jayhawks.

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