Originally published June 28, 2012 at 09:44p.m., updated June 29, 2012 at 12:26a.m.

Memorable hug, tears just part of emotional night for Thomas Robinson

Former KU forward taken fifth by Sacramento Kings

Former Kansas forward Thomas Robinson, right, shakes the hand of NBA commissioner David Stern after Robinson was selected with the fifth pick in the NBA Draft on Thursday in Newark, N.J.

Former Kansas forward Thomas Robinson, right, shakes the hand of NBA commissioner David Stern after Robinson was selected with the fifth pick in the NBA Draft on Thursday in Newark, N.J.


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Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Thomas Robinson talks to reporters after selection in NBA Draft

Thomas Robinson talks to reporters after getting taken fifth overall by the Sacramento Kings in the NBA Draft on Thursday, June 28.

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Former Kansas University forward Thomas Robinson hugs 9-year-old sister Jayla before the start of the NBA draft on Thursday, June 28, 2012, in Newark, N.J.

— Even though his name was called a couple of spots lower than he expected, the dip from No. 2 to No. 5 in Thursday’s NBA draft at the Prudential Center did nothing to spoil the moment for former Kansas University forward Thomas Robinson.

Moments after hearing the Sacramento Kings make him their choice in the first round of this year’s draft, the former KU All-American turned to his 9-year-old sister Jayla and paused. Words were not needed for the exchange between them. And words were not used.

“She just hugged me,” Robinson said. “And it was the best hug in the world.”

From that moment on, Robinson fought off the tears that he knew would come. At times, he stopped and let his emotions flow. Not even that made Robinson’s first NBA moment the least bit sour.

“I made it,” said Robinson, exhaling between sentences. “I mean, I made it through what everybody threw at me. I was just drafted into the NBA.”

Joining the Kings caught Robinson by surprise. Throughout the week, he believed he would go a couple of picks higher — perhaps to Charlotte at No. 2 or his hometown Washington Wizards at No. 3 — and also had no idea he was even on Sacramento’s radar.

“I really didn’t know where I was going to end up,” Robinson said. “I didn’t work out for Sacramento at all. I probably talked to them once. But I’m here, so I’m meant to be here.”

As for the fit, Robinson said he liked the landing spot because it would give him a chance to play next to Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, who, much like Jeff Withey at KU, takes up space in the paint and provides another big body for opponents to worry about. That should free up Robinson to do at least some of what he did with the Jayhawks.

There was more than the on-the-court aspect of Robinson’s fit in Sacramento that made his night, though. The Kings and Jayla share a favorite color.

“She likes purple,” said Robinson, his signature smile outshining the tracks of his tears. “And now I love it.”

As for Jayla, she now has a new team to root for and was not afraid to show it. With a brand new Kings hat on top of her freshly done hair, the only little girl in the green room made her allegiances known.

“I love the Sacramento Kings,” she said.

Asked for her feelings about the huge hug she shared with her brother, Jayla approved of that, too.

“It was goooooood,” she said with an endless smile.

In being selected fifth, Robinson joined Wayne Hightower (also fifth, in 1961) as the fourth-highest KU draft pick of all-time. Danny Manning was taken No. 1 overall by the Los Angeles Clippers in 1988. A decade later, Raef LaFrentz went third to Denver. And, in 2002, Memphis took Drew Gooden at No. 4.

The Washington, D.C. native, became the 10th Jayhawk drafted in the lottery since 2000, which leads the nation.

“To think where he was when he came, and all the things he’s been through, and to see that he is going to be able to provide for his family in ways he could only dream of going into this season is remarkable,” KU coach Bill Self said. “I’m so happy for him, and I’m happy for Jayla.”

Later in the draft, former KU guard Tyshawn Taylor was picked 41st by the Brooklyn Nets, by way of the Portland Trail Blazers, giving the Jayhawks 14 total selections under Self and seven total draft picks in the past three years. Two of those seven, twins Markieff (13th in 2011) and Marcus Morris (14th in 2011), were in the Prudential Center stands supporting their former teammate on Thursday night.

“I’m basically just real happy for him,” Markieff said of Robinson. “He was texting me the whole time telling me he was nervous and I just kept telling him to stay calm and trust that he would be picked where he was supposed to be picked.”

If that didn’t work, the Morris twins had a little extra help from a woman very familiar with the arena’s green room. Angel Morris, who vowed to look after Robinson and Jayla after the passing of Robinson’s mother, Lisa, in early 2011, sat proudly at Robinson’s table, just as she did a year ago with her own sons.

“It’s special, man,” Marcus said. “She’s a strong lady, and she’s been that way my whole life. She’s always taken people in and tried to make their lives better. She’s a mother — a great mother.”


Jeeveshawk 1 year, 9 months ago

The Kings and The Nets were lucky to get Thomas and Tyshawn with how low of picks they had.


Tom Wilson 1 year, 9 months ago

Sorry to see T-Rob going to the Sacramento Kings. How does anyone root for the Kings as long as Demarcus Cousins is on that team? Hope T-Rob is getting an extra large check for having to put up with Cousins.


jayhawkintexas 1 year, 9 months ago

Last night I figured out what the rarest thing on Earth is. It's a Missouri Tiger basketball player in the green room at the NBA draft.


Konkis Dongington III 1 year, 9 months ago

On the recruiting front, Anthony Barber, our top PG prospect for 2013, has trimmed his list to us and Bama.;_ylt=Akt4O.tstbsOhC7Nn6rYjbDEsJB4

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I like our chances with this kid. Bama is goign to have several Jr and Sr guards in the 2013 - 2014 season, whereas the 2013 'hawks are going to be relatively young (Tharpe will be a junior, everyone else a soph). Since Doyle and Rio can both play 2 guards, there should be PT available at the point between Barber and Frankamp. That said, given that Frankamp has raised his profile a lot already this summer, I wouldn't be surprised if going head to head with Frankamp isn't enough tip things in Bama's favor. I think we've got a slight edge, though.


Jay Dogger 1 year, 9 months ago

I just read that Barber has officially narrowed his list to KU and Alabama. It seems like KU is a lot more loaded at the PG/Combo Guard position than Alabama, but I'm not totally sure of Alabama's situation.

Barber looks to be a great prospect and not a OAD type.

Way to go T-Rob and TT!!! I hope to watch you guys a ton in the NBA.


hawksince51 1 year, 9 months ago

Nothing bad about number 5 except that I can't figure out why the Cavs took Dion Walters in the 4th spot over T-Rob. But, hopefully, being with the Kings and Cousins will prove to be better for T-Rob than Cleveland would have been. With Kings ownership, it is hard to say.


Steve Kubler 1 year, 9 months ago

Very nice story on Thomas here;

I'm not sure the rest of the team was mediocre, I like rebuilding year better!


machinegun 1 year, 9 months ago

T-Rob looked sharp in that expensive suit! Best wishes to one of the very best!


dtdjayhawk 1 year, 9 months ago

Can we get an answer as to why Bill Self wasn't at the draft with T-Rob?


Jayhawk1958 1 year, 9 months ago

I actually wish TT would have stayed with Portland as they need alot of help in the backcourt.


CrimsonBlue22 1 year, 9 months ago

"I ain't gonna stop for nobody."

-Thomas Robinson

I wish all the best for him and he is definitely in my top 3 of favorite KU players (Boschee at 2 and Hinrich at 1)



Tony Bandle 1 year, 9 months ago

Jayla actually was closer than we thought...there is a strong rumor that Sacramento, because of stadium issues, is indeed going to move to Anahiem, rename themselves the Royals, their original name, and then Jayla can go to Disneyland as much as she wants!!


KGphoto 1 year, 9 months ago

ESPN was a mess last night. That woman interviewing was a nightmare, I felt sorry for Jayla having to answer her stupid comment about Disneyland. And of course they bring up his family tragedy 10 seconds after he's drafted. Classy.

But nothing (all caps) compares to Andy Katz talking about Jared Sullinger and his bulging "dic%s". My wife spit her wine on the couch, and I re-played it about 50 times in a row. Yep, he said it.

Warning: profane headline


dchon25 1 year, 9 months ago

Great draft! Congrats to TRob and Tyshawn! Just out of curiosity, was Coach Self at the draft? I did not see any photos or I did not read it in any of the articles. Of course, everyone saw Calimari and I believe I saw Roy.


tom123kufan 1 year, 9 months ago

Can someone please shed some light on me as to why there was all the booing going on? The people in the building were all over the place, spilling their beers that were in both hands. This night was to cap a lifetime of achivement for these guys involved and the atmosphere was just a joke. Why does the draft have to be this way? Someone please explain this to me.


Tony Bandle 1 year, 9 months ago

Aldrich, Arthur, Chalmers, Collison, Gooden, Pierce, Henry, Hinrich, Jackson, the Morrii, Rush, Selby, Wright plus TRob and, that would be a pretty darn good roster. Throw in Jeff and Elijah next year and we're set!! :)

There were more trades last night than a bunch of eighth graders with baseball cards at recess.

Footnote: You never knpw when the NBA roster merry-go-round will stop. I think the clueless GM's just shuffle players to justify to the owners their own existence.


REHawk 1 year, 9 months ago

If Cousins has the good sense to comprehend and embrace the talent which Thomas brings to the table, the Kings should immediately improve to .500 success. A current 22-44 record indicates that they have some essential pieces missing.


CrimsonAndBlueForLife 1 year, 9 months ago

Purple is Jayla's favorite color? Good thing her brother played for KU, or else she'd probably have been rooting for K-State!

Anyway, congratulations, Thomas, on making your dream come true. Good luck with the Sacramento Kings (formerly the Kansas City Kings - ah, if only an NBA team would come to KC someday!)


notjustbread 1 year, 9 months ago

Cali-pukey does have nice hair.


yates33333 1 year, 9 months ago

Is there any material difference between 2 and 5? In fact is there any difference monetarily or otherwise in the top ten? The only thing holding Robinson back is his true height, and I don't think that will be a problem considering his strength and bulk.


IrishCharlie 1 year, 9 months ago

did the commish say KANSAS University?

probably NOT!


IrishCharlie 1 year, 9 months ago

Did the Commish say KANSAS UNIVERSITY ?

I don't think so!


jhox 1 year, 9 months ago

One thing I know for certain about TRob, he is a guy who will work his rear off to make the teams who passed on him come to regret it.

One other comment. You will never convince me ther were 40 players better than Tyshawn last year. It makes one wonder what on earth these scouts are watching. I'll predict right now he will eventually be a better player than Mario, in this league. He is a tenacious player, and one who finally put the pieces together the second half of last season. I look for that to carry over into the NBA.


jooz 1 year, 9 months ago

Jayla also said, it's far away or something like that. (Referring to the move to be near her brother.) She was then reminded that Disneyland is there! I do feel sorry for her if she has to leave friends and move, she's had a hard enough time after losing her mother.


adamjhwkfan 1 year, 9 months ago

They had a moment last night when ESPN was talking to Jayla and they said something about her and her dad moving out to wherever he got drafted.


DDDHawk 1 year, 9 months ago

Congratulations, Thomas and Tyshawn! All of your hard work has paid off!


JHWKDW 1 year, 9 months ago

Congrats T-Rob and Tyshawn!

Good luck for both of you and best wishes!


madamhawk 1 year, 9 months ago

Congrats TRob & Tyshawn!!!

Off subject-Right before the draft started, Rece said that Cal is coaching his players one last time (the camera then goes to Cal, AD & MKG) and you hear Cal telling them...once your name is called stand up and hug your mom, then dad, then turn to me a give me a hug in front of the camera. I threw up in my mouth a little bit!!! He IS such a slime. And what is worse is that I read on ESPN today that Cal put out a tweet apologizing to all recruits as his time is being spent with all NBA teams answering questions about his guys. Vain much? Will it end up biting him & UK in the butt one day?


RJ King 1 year, 9 months ago

The Hornets have positioned themselves pretty well (perhaps with the assistance of the league, but I digress . . . ) I neither doubt nor hope that Davis will flop. In fact, now that 2012 is over, I'm indifferent to the UK players. If anything, the fact that our guys hung oh-so-close with a Rookie NBA team not once, but twice this past season is remarkable.

The Kings are certainly Kings of chaos, but Keith Smart is a decent guy, a player's coach, and in need of effort, respect, and defense. Robinson is being welcomed in Sacto as a gift from heaven (now located in Cleveland). Hopefully Cousins' diva doesn't rub off on T-Robb. Can't wait to see T-Robb play up close and personal.

I'm not so sure TT got hosed. Dee Williams has been hurt and may be traded. On the other hand, there are rumors of Steve Nash to Brooklin. Anything can happen. Remember all the shuffling around with Darnell, Mario, Darrell, and Brandon? Three years from now, it's likely either or both T's will have been traded.

I wish them the best new start possible and am so proud to claim them as Jayhawks. I'll follow them wherever they land!


David Leathers 1 year, 9 months ago

If Robinson's NBA career turns out to be as successful as, say, Garnett's, I see a possible movie made about his life and career. Think about it:

  • Highly touted kid coming out of high school signs with KU (A.K.A. University of Kansas) to play basketball.

  • Plays semi-sparingly in his Freshman campaign; more as a Sophmore in a backup role.

  • Grand Father, Grand Mother and Mother all pass within a months time during sophmore campaign.

  • Plays one full year as a starter during his Junior year and dominates. Takes his team to National Championship game in a "rebuilding" year.

That, there, is almost enough for an intriguing movie plot. If he does have success at the NBA level though, that could be the icing on the cake.


phogphan2000 1 year, 9 months ago

So happy for these guys, TRob lucked out not getting picked by Charlotte, Cleveland and probably Washington. He's got a chance at Sacramento to do some good things. Tyshawn I'm sure is excited about the idea of being a Net more than a Trailblazer. Don't know if Williams is a lock to stay in NJ/Brooklyn or if there's a chance he'd end up elsewhere next season. Either way TT is capable of making the team and playing some minutes. I hope he keeps improving his jumper, works on turnovers and he should make for a very good NBA player. To be a 2nd round pick and get traded to me says there are multiple teams interested in you, so that's a good thing. Sometimes you think going undrafted would be better and not limit you to any particular team, but having teams show the interest to draft you/trade for you has to be a big positive.


Jason Keller 1 year, 9 months ago

I'm not too high on the Kings but I do like the idea of Thomas playing next to another big body. That will limit the abuse on him and give him more opportunity. Anywhere in the NBA is good when your top 5. If Thomas manages his money, he's a made man and will never "work" again.

Tyshawn on the other hand got STROKED, I do not like his situation at all. I think he slid too far and I don't like the Nets organization at all. They have made some very bad decisions in the last year or two and have found themselves in a real pickle. Tyshawn better perfect his jump shot because he will NOT play point guard for the Nets. Deron is an elite PG in this league. On the defensive end, I think Tyshawn's defense will get him on the court for hopefully 10-15 minutes a game. From there, he'll have an opportunity to prove his offensive arsenal and get the heck out of Dodge (Brooklyn).

Good luck to both of them, two of my favorite Jayhawks of all time.


Doug Cramer 1 year, 9 months ago

Freakin love T-Rob's passion and focus to get things done.

He's the reason we got to the final this year...because when he goes after something...he doesn't let anything or anyone get in his way.

Love ya T-Rob. You'll go down as one of my favorite Jayhawks!


justoneperson 1 year, 9 months ago

What a good guy. I certainly teared up along with him. Congrats to them both.


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