Justin Robinson Opens Up: Part 2

Justin Robinson, Virginia Tech
Justin Robinson signed for his hometown Washington Wizards. (Photo by Jon Fleming)

Link To Part 1

The 2019 NBA Draft arrived and Justin Robinson was prepared to fulfill the dream of a lifetime. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound point guard had just capped off a storied career at Virginia Tech where he led the Hokies to three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time in program history.

Robinson’s senior year ended in heartbreaking fashion following a 75-73 loss to Duke in the Sweet 16. However, that didn’t take away from a senior season that saw him average 13.5 points and 5.0 assists on 47.3 percent shooting and return for March Madness just several weeks after surgery on a broken foot.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Deputy Commissioner Adam Tatum went pick-by-pick all the way through the two rounds of the draft, and Robinson never heard his name called. It was a disappointing moment for the Virginia Tech faithful, hoping to bask in the joy with one of the fan favorites, but Robinson himself was celebrating behind the scenes.

“I never tell anyone about it, but I could have heard my name called,” Robinson said. “But I thought DC and the deal they were offering me was the best thing that could go about. I turned down a couple two ways or other calls on draft night to hear my name.

“The Wizards told me if I told every team no, then they would have a deal for me ready and I could sign it right away. I had a good amount of money guaranteed and saw the whole deal. I was like, ‘I don’t need to hear my name called.’ Obviously, my parents see me live out my dream. Being at home, I was 45 minutes away from home and just the whole idea of ‘I worked my whole life for this and I made it.’”

There’s one particular moment from that Thursday night on June 20 that is forever stitched in Robinson’s memory…a moment that encapsulates the love from a father who was with his son every step of the way in Robinson’s basketball journey.

“My Dad put me in the right situations to where I’m at in life,” Robinson said. “I never have seen my Dad mad or upset or cry or anything. Once I saw a tear fall from his eye on draft night, it was just like, ‘Wow,’ I felt accomplished.”

It’s an instance in time that holds an even deeper significance today for Robinson, because grief doesn’t discriminate when it comes knocking. It attacks the strong, the weak, the wealthy, the poor, and everyone in between. 

On March 21, Robinson’s father Verdell passed away from a heart attack. 

“It felt like the end of the world when it happened,” Robinson said. “That was my guy. He’s the one that put a basketball into my hands. Put me in certain situations where I would fail so I would learn. I think him and God just working in mysterious ways, where he could see his youngest son reach his dream and fulfill everything that he ever wanted and him going out on a high note.”

Justin Robinson

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