Monday, January 31, 2011

D.C. trip touched Kansas’ Hinson

Assistant honored to accompany Robinson to mother's funeral


Kansas University director of basketball operations Barry Hinson, who had just spent five days with grief-stricken Thomas Robinson, shared a final thought with the sophomore power forward Friday afternoon in the parking lot outside Allen Fieldhouse.

“As he was getting out of my Jeep, I said, ‘In all honesty, I want to let you know I thought you left as a kid, and you came back as a young man,’’’ Hinson said.

He and Robinson flew to Washington, D.C., a week ago today and returned Friday afternoon, a day after the funeral of Robinson’s mother, Lisa, who died of an apparent heart attack on Jan. 21.

“It’s something I’ll never forget the rest of my life. I certainly learned a lot. I’m getting ready to be 50 years old, and I just learned a lot from a 19-year-old young man,” Hinson said.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of him. He dealt with it absolutely as best you could. I mean, we had to plan a funeral. We had to check on family members. We had to take care of business in a matter of 72 hours. I’m fortunate both of my parents are still living. I’ve never had to do this.”

Hinson and Robinson — whose grandmother and grandfather also died in the past month — headed straight to Lisa’s apartment upon arriving in D.C. to pick up Robinson’s 7-year-old sister, Jayla.

“That was incredibly emotional,” Hinson said. “We didn’t stay there very long for obvious reasons.

“It really hurt ... but we had to do so many things while we were there. My dad has a saying, ‘You’ve got to make hay.’ We were trying to make hay as fast as we could. For Thomas ... the grieving process had to be interrupted for funeral planning, estate planning, scholarship planning, setting up meetings, things like that.

“Thomas was a trooper. He would go to the meetings and handle them. I can’t tell you how proud I am of him.”

Hinson said several individuals stepped up in the planning of Lisa Robinson’s funeral, held at noon Thursday at Antioch Baptist Church in D.C.

“Thomas’ brother, Jamah (who is in mid 20s) was phenomenal. He did an enormous amount of work,” Hinson said. “Angel Morris (mother of KU’s Morris twins) ... the NCAA allowed her to go. I’ll be quite frank. If Angel hadn’t been on the trip, I don’t know if the funeral would have taken place.”

A snow and ice storm nearly ruined all the well executed funeral plans.

“I’ll never forget it — 5 o’clock in the morning (Thursday), I got a phone call. There was no power at the church, and the streets hadn’t been cleared. People wouldn’t be able to get there,” Hinson said. “By 9 o’clock, we had the service back on. We were able to get this all done because of a tremendous amount of people helping.”

The funeral itself was special — in large part because Robinson’s teammates flew in Wednesday night and were able to attend.

“I think we are always sad at funerals because we lose somebody we love. The funeral and the path it took was a moment of celebration,” Hinson said. “There were times you cried. There were times you laughed. There were times for provoking thought.

“I came back and told my wife, ‘Within the next month, I will plan my whole funeral out.’ I’m serious. I’ve never been that close to the preparation (of a funeral). I told her no question. I know exactly what I want to do, how I want to handle it for me.”

Hinson did not return with the KU team Thursday afternoon. He spent an additional evening with Robinson. They had adjoining rooms at a D.C. hotel — “I’d check on him from time to time,” Hinson said — before the duo returned for practice Friday afternoon.

“The healing process took the moment he got back on the practice floor,” Hinson said. “Being around his teammates ... I knew exactly what would happen. I’ve been coaching 30 years. I’ve seen this happen before. I knew when he got back among his friends and his family in Lawrence that he would be great.

“He has so many friends. I kept getting e-mails. Somebody created a Facebook page for him. I kept showing my phone to him: ‘Thomas read this. Read that.’ I told Thomas, ‘The Jayhawk nation has literally put their arms around you and will have them around you for the rest of your life.’’’

A fired-up Robinson scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds in Saturday’s 90-66 rout of Kansas State.

“He’ll be more than OK. You saw him today. How do you do that? How do you do what he did against K-State? It’s just courage,” Hinson said. “I’m like a proud father. I have my chest poked out so far.”

Hinson — he praised the NCAA for working with KU all week and also allowing Robinson to set up a fund for his sister’s college education — believes Jayla will be fine.

“I had a chance to be around her father (with whom she’s living now). I really enjoyed visiting with him,” Hinson said. “The aunts, uncles, grandmothers and grandfathers ... there’s enough people there. She has a great support system there.

“She is precious,” Hinson added. “She knew more how to run my iPhone — as a second-grader — than I did. I could already tell you she’ll be fine.”

Hinson considers it an “honor” to have been the KU staff member who accompanied Robinson. Hinson said video coordinator Kyle Keller likely would have gone, but he was attending a ceremony for the 10-year anniversary of the plane crash that claimed the lives of 10 individuals associated with Oklahoma State’s team of which Keller was assistant coach.

“I told coach (Bill) Self: ‘I am the most logical candidate.’ I was proud to go,” Hinson said. “I feel I’ve had great training because my dad is a minister. I’ve watched my dad deal with this his entire life. I’ve learned great lessons from him. I still am an emotional person. I haven’t cried that much in a long time. You cry because you care for someone. Obviously, we cared for Thomas, and it brought a lot of tears to a lot of people’s eyes.”

Hinson’s eyes brightened when discussing a conversation with one of Robinson’s family members.

“When it was time to leave, one of the grandmothers grabbed me and said, ‘I want to let you know you are part of our family for the rest of your life,’’’ Hinson said.

“That was probably the best thing somebody could ever say to me. I’d be in a room and people would walk in, and here’s this little short basketball coach: ‘Who is that guy? We’ve never seen him in our life?’ By the time we left, she hugged me and said, ‘You’ll always be part of our family.’ Shoot ... I got invited to a wedding,” he added with a laugh. “I did feel part of that family after five days.”

Odd near-dunk: Folks are buzzing about a missed dunk try by K-State’s Jamar Samuels on Saturday. His one-handed putback slam of a Jacob Pullen miss went 3/4 of the way down the net before flipping back out.

Recruit on game: Kaleb Tarczewski, a 7-foot, 220-pound junior center from St. Mark’s High in Southborough, Mass., was one of several recruits to attend the KSU game.

“I just like the way Kansas plays basketball. The way they play is eye-opening to me,” Tarczewski, the No. 13-rated player in the Class of 2012 told “Coach Self and I just had a regular conversation when we talked. We were hanging out and having a good time together.”

He has yet to put together his final list of schools.


ParisHawk 10 years, 10 months ago

Hats off to Hinson, and to Gary Bedore for a great follow-up story. Angel Morris lived up to her name.

So many people were so admirable amid so much adversity great and small. This was the real "shining moment"!

cobweb 10 years, 10 months ago

Barry Hinson is a class act and a very good coach. Check Missouri State's record since they fired him.

scarletbhound 10 years, 10 months ago

Cobweb: I live in Springfield, MO, and casually follow Missouri State. In truth, the Bears have been on a roll since Hinson left. They are tied for first in the Missouri Valley, despite a one-point loss to Northern Iowa last night. Their coach, Cuonzo Martin, is incredibly personable and will be a big-time coach in the near future. Hinson is a fine coach, but -- to be honest -- got screwed a couple of times by not getting into the NCAA tournament, despite having teams that deserved a place. Hinson just couldn't get a break. I hope he gets another shot to be head coach, but as this story suggests, KU is very fortunate to have him.

coach2878 10 years, 10 months ago

And why is this not the lead article online??? Come on guys (JW-online), get it together! This is a 100x better than the article on Duke and the odds to win the NCAA Tournament. This article is incredibly moving and shows the real value of collegiate sports and the University of Kansas.

ilovebill 10 years, 10 months ago

Thank you so much Angel Morris for taking care of Thomas like your own wonder you have children with great character. And thank you, Barry Hinson for the care and love you have shown Thomas. This team really is about being a family in every sense of the word.

ccarp 10 years, 10 months ago

What a staff for mentoring young men at Kansas! Keep the standard high gentlemen. Having such solid mentors for so long may be our greatest streak yet!

REHawk 10 years, 10 months ago

A really fine story, Gary Bedore. Any possibility of an interview with Angel Morris?

KU_Alumn_2000 10 years, 10 months ago

I also live in Springfield and can tell you that coach Martin has something brewing here at Missouri State.

With this said though...the Springfield community liked Coach Hinson a lot. Several close to the University along some media members were upset that he was fired.

JHWK 10 years, 10 months ago

I don't think I've ever been prouder to be a Jayhawk.

The National Championship was spectacular, but this story - the people we have associated with KU - this is what it is to be a Jayhawk!

Thank you Coach Hinson, Angel Morris, and everyone who has and will help this fantastic young man!

Rock Chalk!

rcjhparker 10 years, 10 months ago

Well said JHWK..........I have been lifetime fan of KU.....but I've lived most of my life in Springfield, Mo and must say Coach Hinson is a class act and wish him nothing but the best of luck for what lies ahead!!!!

Thomas Michaud 10 years, 10 months ago

1.) I'm very glad I can close my door at work while reading a story like this. Man that bring tears to your eyes (of sorry, joy, and pride). As always, Mr. Bedore, you are an amazing journalist.

2.) Despite my disdain for the NCAA, I'm very proud of what they've "allowed" -- now finding out about Angel Morris

3.) I can't help but think there's going to be some athletes that look at this program much like the conclusion of Jerry McGuire ... "At the end of the movie, a prospect notices the relationship between Rod and Jerry and asks his agent, 'Why don’t we have that'. Awkwardly, Jay Mohr's character (Jerry's nemesis) tries to give his client a hug and gets shrugged. Why? You can't fake sincerity." (credit: ... This "family thing" at KU is not faked (I remember the night Archie Marshall took the court one last time against OSU and the hope he would make that shot - AFH would have exploded), it's part of who KU (and really the state of Kansas) is ... something I GREATLY miss.

Kyle Crenshaw 10 years, 10 months ago

I realize it's really not that big a deal but is Jayla 7 or 9??? I feel like articles on here and espn are going back and forth between the two

Jeremy LeMaster 10 years, 10 months ago

She is 7... Coach Self confirmed that she was 7 and not 9 as was previously reported.

Sally Presson 10 years, 10 months ago

thank you coach Hinson for helping Thomas get through this extremely difficult time of his life. Thomas is on my mind and in my heart always and this article brought the peace he's going to be OK soon. I hope attention has also been given to Josh, a life taken so young is hard to get over. Words just can't begin to discribe how proud I am to be a Jayhawk fan. Our team of young men are absolutely the best there is, every single one of them and our coaches, I hope everyone says their "thank-yous" every night for the staff and team we have. they make this world a better place!!! When I heard Coach Self talk on game day--he is absolutely the most sincere person in this world!! Thanks so much for coming to KU, coach Self!!!

FairgroveJayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

I too was disappointed to see Hinson leave Springfield, until I heard he was heading to KU. It says a lot when a program can retain such a collection of high caliber coaches.

Phoggin_Loud 10 years, 10 months ago

Mr. Bedore, excellent article!

Thomas seems like an outstanding young man. Coach Hinson & Angel are incredible as well. I am amazed at how everyone handled this tragic situation. I could not be more proud of the Jayhawk Family.

Something tells me that Thomas will be all right. He has grown up right before our eyes.

STLHawkFan 10 years, 10 months ago

I've never been more proud to be a Jayhawk fan. This team, down to the parents that support our warriors, are tremendous. No matter what happens in the W/L columns, this is my favorite team of all time. Despite the fights with the football team, suspensions and scandels, these men have righted the ship for Jayhawk nation and I couldn't be more proud. Keep up the great work and put everything you have toward playing this great game hard. Nothing can take away from maximum effort, or your love of the game. Put on your shades fellas, the future is bright!

IBRONNIEB 10 years, 10 months ago

Wow! What a story! Everyone one here has pretty much summed up what needs to be said. This really brought the Jayhawk family closer together.

Funhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

Unique article by Gary. Whether we realize it or not, every story written in a newspaper is written to lead the reader to the writer's point-of-view - a pre-arranged conclusion led by the writer's added comments. The writer in this wonderful article let the person interviewed do all the talking. Writer's comments not needed. Reading Gary's article, you felt like you were in Barry Hinson's shoes.

ahpersecoachingexperience 10 years, 10 months ago

I knew it, I knew it, I knew it. I said to myself "don't read it ahpersecoachingexperience you know your eyes are going to start to water." sure enough! Clicked it, and now I have to explain to people why my "allergies" are bothering me.

Thanks Coach Hinson

Thanks jayhawk nation

RockCaCO3 10 years, 10 months ago

Great article. It really puts things in perspective on alot of different levels.

keith horinek 10 years, 10 months ago

The KSU win was a breakout game for Thomas, obviously and quite possibly a season changer for the entire team. Hang onto your hats folks, if you think this team was good before this tragedy, watch out, they could go a loooong way with this emotion. KU nation is so strong, I'm proud of the way they took Thomas under their wing. Why other kids don't see this and choose KU is beyond me. Coach Hinson, coach Self and the entire staff are a class act. Good article.

mikehawk 10 years, 10 months ago

Fabulous story. I feel much better hearing about Jayla and the fact she has good family around her. Thanks, Angel. Thanks, Coach Hinson. We refer to ourselves as a KU family, and this shows it is much more than words.

r0ckchalkgirl 10 years, 10 months ago

Great article! One of the best I have ever read on here. I'm more proud to be Jayhawk than ever. Stay strong Thomas the entire Jayhawk nation is standing behind you!

kubiggestfan 10 years, 10 months ago

Kansas University, KU Mens Basketball Staff, players, and Coaches are a class act...Thomas Robninson could not have been surrounded by a better group of people.

kltbadboyz 10 years, 10 months ago

Barry Hinson would rather be director of basketball operations at KU than be a head coach at a div 1 school, just goes to show you what kind of family we have here! Great article which will touch everyone who reads it.

jayhawkgirl72 10 years, 10 months ago

Everyday I read about TRob, the team, coaches, Angela Morris, Jayhawk Nation, I am so proud to have spent 4 fabulous years at KU and will always be a member of the jay hawk family.

KU_FanSince75 10 years, 10 months ago

I am glad Barry Hinson is on HCBS's staff at KU. He is awesome! Yea, at Missouri State (used to be SW MO State), Hinson should have been in the field of 64 but got screwed by the NCAA selection committee. Thanks for all you do, coach Hinson! Thanks for what you did for T-Rob!

"I'd be in a room and people would walk in, and here's this short basketball coach: Who is this guy?" -----We shouldn't say short---we should say, "vertically challenged!" Coach Hinson---You got a huge heart! Thanks!

I thought this was funny about Jayla----- "She is precious, said Hinson. She knew more how to run my iPhone--as a second grader--than I did."

Oh, I know I am a "FanSince75," but I sure didn't grow up with all the technology toys that kids grow up today. I would love to meet Jayla. She seems to have the personality that T-Rob has.

Gary, nice article! I enjoyed reading it. Rock Chalk!

kerbyd 10 years, 10 months ago

Why is it that an amazing article like this, that shows how wonderful the Jayhawk nation is gets 30 some comments and a stupid article about betting on Puke gets 3 times as many comments? I sincerely hope it is because so many people are outraged as I am about such a lame article. I agree with Jaybate. Leave it to a pro to deliver.

JayhawkPiller82 10 years, 10 months ago

Honestly, I didn't even open the Puke article for two reasons: First of all I've heard Barry speak in person and he's an amazing individual so I wanted read what he said to TR. And secondly, well let's just say it's better to focus on the positives than the negatives....i.e. Puke! PROUD TO BE A JAYHAWK after reading this article... RCJH

oregonjhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

Incredible article. Amazing to hear about all the support for T-Rob. The entire Jayhawk Nation is behind you!

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