As soon as Naadir Tharpe got word that Kansas sophomore Thomas Robinson had lost his mother, the senior sent off a quick text. Brewster head coach Jason Smith interrupted Tharpe during class, and the senior ducked into the hallway and immediately dialed him up.
"My father passed away in 2006, so the first thing I told him is this is God just giving you, just showing how strong you want to be, to get over the hump," said Tharpe, a Worcester native who played together with Robinson at Brewster during the 08-09 season, and is set to join him next fall at KU. "That’s basically what he’s gonna have to do is get over the hump. I know his grandmother passed away, then his mom, that’s gonna be real tough. But he’s a strong dude, so I know he’s gonna be able to get through it."
Robinson's mother, Lisa, died at age 43 on Jan. 21 from an apparent heart attack, just five days after Robinson lost his grandfather and nearly a month after losing his grandmother. This past Wednesday, the NCAA granted a number of waivers from its bylaws to allow the University of Kansas to aid Robinson and his nine-year-old sister, Jayla. Lisa was a single mother raising Jayla in Washington, D.C. at the time of her death.
Brewster head coach Jason Smith said the school is the midst of arranging a fundraiser for Jayla.
"Kansas called me last Saturday (Jan. 22) early, to let me know, and then I immediately called Thomas and told him that we loved him, and we're here for him," Smith said.
Robinson had found out of the death the night before at around 11 p.m., and when Smith talked to him the next morning he was "devastated".
"To lose that many people in his family, in such a small circle...his grandmother and mother raised him," Smith said. "His mother actually visited us at Madison Square Garden when we were hosting an event at the Jimmy V (Classic) last month. She was nice enough to come to the event to support our Brewster alumni. It's just a horrible situation. Tragic."