Texas defeated Kansas, 74-63 at Allen Fieldhouse, ending the Jayhawks' home-game winning streak at 69 on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2011.
Kansas coach Bill Self talks to reporters following the Jayhawks' 74-63 loss to Texas on Jan. 22, 2011.
Texas coach Rick Barnes talks to reporters following his team's 74-63 victory over Kansas on Jan. 22, 2011, at Allen Fieldhouse.
Thomas Robinson’s baby sister, Jayla Paris, cell-phoned her big brother late Friday night.
The news was the worst possible kind.
Their beloved mother, Lisa, had just died, apparently of a heart attack, in Washington, D.C.
“Thomas couldn’t stop crying. Coach (Bill) Self was there. He cried. It was just real emotional,” Kansas University junior guard Tyshawn Taylor said of an impromptu team gathering in sophomore forward Robinson’s Jayhawker Towers apartment, which began before midnight and lasted well into the wee hours of the morning — the same morning of Saturday’s 74-63 loss to No. 10-ranked Texas in Allen Fieldhouse.
It was a loss that snapped No. 2 KU’s 69-game homecourt winning streak, something that meant so very little to the Jayhawks compared to the heartbreak their teammate, who had two points and five rebounds in eight foul-plagued minutes in Saturday’s game, was going through.
“T-Rob is like my brother. If he’s crying, I’m crying, too,” said Taylor, whose mom, Jeanell, and other mothers of KU players also were in Robinson’s apartment, with Jeanell massaging Robinson’s back for comfort.
“I’ve lost people, but this was different. It just felt kind of like, ‘Dang, I wish I could do something to help him, but I can’t do anything.’ Seeing him hurt like he was hurting last night, it was rough on all of us,” added Taylor, who said he was unable to sleep except maybe an hour, tossing and turning all night.
KU coach Self — he said he spoke with several experts who told him it was important to let Robinson decide whether he wanted to play against Texas — said the scene in Robinson’s room, “was the saddest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.
“But it was probably something that was humbling and also made you proud because those kids and families and everybody ... they do care about each other an awful lot,” Self added.
Self said Lisa Robinson was just 37 years old. Her passing followed the death of Robinson’s grandmother in late December and death of his grandfather, who died a week ago today.
Self said he was told Lisa Robinson had had severe migraines since the death of her mom, which forced a trip to the hospital following her dad’s death.
“What I told our guys ... 16,000 people that were here today and supported us great like they do every game ... they go home sad and disappointed,” Self said. “He (Robinson) is one of those guys. (But) he goes home ... he doesn’t have a mother anymore. It certainly puts everything in perspective because you are going to wake up three or four days from now, and people will be doing their own things, and the world keeps going on, and that’s the reality he’s going to live with the rest of his life.
“It’s unbelievable,” Self went on. “Stop and think about it. He’s got a 9-year-old sister left in his family, and she’s half the country away and how his life has changed so much overnight. It’s a pretty sad thing. People deal with it all the time, and he’ll deal with it like a man, but still your heart certainly hurts for (him) and his family.”
The scene in Allen Fieldhouse was somber before Saturday’s game.
Angel Morris, mother of the Morris twins, called Robinson out of warm-up drills on the south end of the court to give him a big hug and utter words of encouragement.
Marcus Morris, who scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds, wept while standing next to Robinson during a moment of silence in the fieldhouse before the game.
“For anybody to lose their mom ... it’s sad to even say anything because you don’t know what to say,” Morris said. “(He’s a) tough kid. To want to come and be with us and still play today ... he showed a lot of toughness. I hope he’ll be OK and get better.”
Tyrel Reed, who had 17 points off 5-of-9 three-point shooting, spoke with wet eyes in the interview room.
“T-Rob is such a young kid and a great teammate, a great person,” Reed said. “I’m just so proud of him the way he’s grown up from the time he was a freshman until now. He’s made such strides. To go through what he’s been through in the last three weeks with all his family, I don’t know of anybody that has happened to. I can only imagine the hurt he’s feeling. I want to be there for him ... tough kid.”
Self called Robinson “a stud” and said he was amazed he played.
“I think in more times like that, you see teams get off to an emotional good start,” Self said. “We played well, too (early). I felt it was emotional. I felt like we didn’t have much gas in the tank in the second half, but a lot of it is because of Texas’ play, too (in outscoring KU, 51-28, the second 20 minutes).”
Self said the result “doesn’t take away from the fact we tried today. It doesn’t take away from the fact Texas played well. We were out there, and since we were out there it was our job to perform. Not to perform so much we’ve got to win the game, but to perform a way if your teammate is willing to be out there under these circumstances, the least we could do is everything we can to sacrifice and make sure we did it as well (as Robinson). We did for a while, but certainly didn’t do that late.”
The Jayhawks (18-1, 3-1) will play Colorado at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Boulder.
Self did not know if Robinson would attend.
“Whatever he needs to do, he needs to do. We’re his family, and so I don’t know what that is yet,” Self said. “We’ll get organized this weekend and figure out what would be the best way for us to help him.”
His teammates and coaches — and mothers of players — will be there for him, that’s for sure.
“T-Rob is a strong dude, man,” Taylor said. “We’ve got his back. He’ll be all right.”