Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thomas, Jayla...and growing up way too fast

You've heard the story by now. Thomas Robinson, sophomore power forward for the Kansas Jayhawks, had his grandmother pass away three weeks ago and his grandfather ten days ago. Robinson then received a call at approximately 11:00 p.m. last Friday. The call was from his little sister, Jayla, who left an urgent message asking Robinson to call. Robinson checked the message, heard Jayla crying, and, fearing the worst, called her back. He learned that his mother had died from an apparent heart attack.

Not only was a 19-year old man-child's life rocked again but he now was faced with the harsh reality that he was in Lawrence, KS--1,100 miles away from his seven-year old sister.

What's played out in the past week is a tragic drama of loss, coping, family, grieving, caring, and loving. A community of fans--the Jayhawk Nation--has rallied, pledging support and outpouring their concern for a young man that very few actually know, yet still claim to love. A team of 15, along with coaches and staff, have consoled Robinson and one another, have lost a game within hours of learning of the loss and spending the night and early morning dealing with the aftermath and, most recently, traveling to Washington, D.C. only to arrive five hours late to their hotel due to the brutal snowstorm in the East. The next day the team attended the funeral, which almost didn't happen due to power outages. And, shockingly, in the midst of all this tragedy came more unreal news--one of freshman guard Josh Selby's best friends, and godson of his mother, was murdered in Baltimore.

Words can't even begin to describe this surreal drama as it plays out. I can't help but compare it to the few losses I've experienced in my life and, because of that, can't imagine a young man of 19 so suddenly being thrust into adulthood, much less the impact that this is having on a seven-year old girl.

We can only hope that Robinson is receiving advice which will guide decisions which are in his and Jayla's best interests. We also can only hope that bureaucracy doesn't get in the way of doing what's right--that the many who have expressed a desire to help are given a chance to do just that. Because, wouldn't it be an even bigger tragedy if the lives of these two young people weren't impacted by the many who want to do something giving and right?

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