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.”


justoneperson 10 years, 1 month ago

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

Doug Cramer 10 years, 1 month 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!

kellerman411 10 years, 1 month 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.

Curtis Stutz 10 years, 1 month 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.

Jonathan Allison 10 years, 1 month ago

yeah, shy does the LJ World refuse to call it by it's real name, the Basketball Association of the Nation, BAN

NH_JHawk 10 years, 1 month ago

As long as we're correcting, shouldn't that be the JWL (The Journal World of Lawrence?)

David Leathers 10 years, 1 month 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.

David Leathers 10 years, 1 month ago

woohoo, I like the bulleted list! Now LJW, can you get it to where there is an insertion point showing/blinking in the text being written. It would make it easier to edit whatever it may be.

David Leathers 10 years, 1 month ago

The perfect scenario to cap it off would be if Anthony David flops and TRob, who droped all the way to the fifth pick dominates and wins a few championships. Thus, further securing sister Jayla's futuristic oppurtunities and financial security.

John Randall 10 years, 1 month ago

They call it Big Monday, among other names . . . commentators never missed a chance to bring up the third week of Jan, 2011.

RJ King 10 years, 1 month 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!

Curtis Stutz 10 years, 1 month ago

I like your comment other than that we "hung close" with UK and should be happy about it. Would have liked to see our guys jump on a young team early last season and things just didn't go KU's way in the champ game (jump shots, tip ins, trying to crash the o-glass). Maybe some injuries held the 'Hawks back, but our guys were plenty talented to get a win last year.

RJ King 10 years, 1 month ago

thanks. And yeah, I agree. But I said "remarkable," not that I was "happy" about it. I meant remarkable, as in "still proud." Definitely would've been nice to cash in on UK's young team in the reg season game, but we were young at that time too (not so much in years, but in development). I guess, after such a satisfying season overall, I'm willing to drop the "shoulda, coulda, wouldas." :)

madamhawk 10 years, 1 month 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?

kellerman411 10 years, 1 month ago

I heard that. He is disgusting, but dammit that hair is nice. I wouldn't worry about Cal or Kentucky. That was a special class he had this year. AD and MKG are already super stars. They will be much less dominating this year even though they got another solid class. They're the 4th or 5th favorite at best.

DRsmith 10 years, 1 month ago

Yeah, I wouldn't worry about it. He only has brought in the 1st or 2nd ranked class the last 4 years. An anomoly for sure.

Brak 10 years, 1 month ago

Hey if I had brief cases full of cash I could bring in the #1 recruiting class as well. As a Kentucky fan you should worry about having all those wins and championships vacated though.

Curtis Stutz 10 years, 1 month ago

DRsmith, that doesn't mean last year wasn't an anomaly. He picked up the best 2 recruits in a year as well as the top2 draft picks to go with 2 other 5 star guys and had 2 previous 5 star guys stick around in part due to the NBA lockout. He'll do well in recruiting but that would have been like Teague sticking around and picking up Bazz and Nerlens to go with Poythress and Goodwin for this year. Plus both Bazz and Noel would have to turn out to be excellent team first players which in and of itself is a rarity for that level of recruit. Bit of an anomaly.

Ethan Berger 10 years, 1 month ago

Wow. Come on plenty of reason to complain about him and that isn't one of them. He was clearly just trying to losing up his guys. Which is why when he did hug them he never turned them so he could face the camera.

KANSTUCKY 10 years, 1 month ago

He was "giving away" autographs here this summer for a mere $50 fee...

John Randall 10 years, 1 month ago

Will it end up biting him & UK in the butt one day?

It certainly will if the script is from Aeschylus, Sophocles or Euripides, where hubris is inevitably followed by nemesis.

Matt Tait 10 years, 1 month ago

Thomas said Wednesday that Jayla's going with him wherever he goes. Sacramento's a long way from the east coast, but that's definitely what he wants. Time will tell.

DDDHawk 10 years, 1 month ago

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

adamjhwkfan 10 years, 1 month 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.

jooz 10 years, 1 month 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.

KGphoto 10 years, 1 month ago

LOL Disneyland. Yeah Jayla, it's only 7 hours away now. Isn't that great?!

RJ King 10 years, 1 month ago

Perhaps the reporter didn't get the memo that the Kings aren't moving to Anaheim anymore. . . . or, wait, maybe she knows something that we don't??? It was definitely an awkward moment for sure. I cringed.

Stan Unruh 10 years, 1 month ago

That female ESPN reporter did NOT need to interview Jayla...and did a terrible job. The Disney thing was stupid.. East coast folks have no clue about anything Jersey.

Brak 10 years, 1 month ago

Keep in mind that her father has custody so she isn't going anywhere without him. My guess is that he buys a house in DC and stays there in the offseason because while the season is going on he is going to be traveling a lot and wouldn't get to see her much anyways.

jhox 10 years, 1 month 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.

yates33333 10 years, 1 month 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.

jakejayhawk 10 years, 1 month ago

The difference between #2 and #5 next year alone is almost $1 million. Yeah, pretty substantial.

KGphoto 10 years, 1 month ago

Bring back the Kings! Bring back Thomas! While you're at it, bring back Nate Archibald.

John Randall 10 years, 1 month ago

Not unless you get things all mixed up do red and blue pigments combine to form purple.

REHawk 10 years, 1 month 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.

DRsmith 10 years, 1 month ago

Cousins really came on after the coaching change last year. Their front court is going to be something else.

texashawk10 10 years, 1 month ago

Sacramento is a really young team. Next year, all 5 of their likely starters are going to be 25 and under and 4 of them will be 23 and under. This is a team that should grow together and become a good team if they stay together.

Tony Bandle 10 years, 1 month 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.

RJ King 10 years, 1 month ago

Unfortunately, 8th graders are now trading clothes, junk food snacks, smart phone pix, or pot.

SaltLakeHawk 10 years, 1 month ago

Tell me about it. And those punks won't stay off my lawn!

tom123kufan 10 years, 1 month 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 10 years, 1 month ago

It's the other explanation is necessary!!

Matt Tait 10 years, 1 month ago

The New Jersey fans are mad at Stern for allowing the team to move to Brooklyn. That was most of it. There was some booing there last year but not nearly as much as last night.

Beyond that, I think there will always be a fair amount of booing because a lot of people just don't like Stern or the way he runs the league.

Not saying it's right or good, but that's the reason for it.

rockchalk_dpu 10 years, 1 month ago

You must not have watched a draft or any presentation Stern has made in an arena (MVP etc.). The fans always boo Stern to voice some opinion on some strange thing. I'd assume that last night was designed to get on him about the lockout, the debacle with the Hornets over the last year, and the Heat winning a championship. You are right though, it went on all night and got ridiculous at times, to the point of upstaging the players being drafted. I can't believe people bought tickets just to sit and boo Stern. They booed Goodell for the first part of the NFL draft, but it at least stopped after a few picks.

dchon25 10 years, 1 month 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.

KGphoto 10 years, 1 month 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

Tony Bandle 10 years, 1 month 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!!

CrimsonBlue22 10 years, 1 month 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)


Jayhawk1958 10 years, 1 month ago

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

dtdjayhawk 10 years, 1 month ago

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

Brak 10 years, 1 month ago

Yea I couldn't figure out what possibly could have kept him from being with T-Rob last night unless T-Rob told him not to come. He was there for the Morii last year.

machinegun 10 years, 1 month ago

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

Steve Kubler 10 years, 1 month ago

Very nice story on Thomas here;

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

hawksince51 10 years, 1 month ago

I'm no expert on the subject since all we had at KU during my years was 3.2% beer. But using a certain wing player from the 2008 team as an example I do not see marijuana as being performance enhancing. This player was too mellow on the court most of the time in spite of amazing talent. He is considered to be only mediocre in the pros and has been busted by the NBA a couple of times. So, I would hope our current players would learn from his bad example.

hawksince51 10 years, 1 month 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.

jayhawkintexas 10 years, 1 month 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.

Tom Wilson 10 years, 1 month 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.

Jeeveshawk 10 years, 1 month ago

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

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