His poise has increased, too. When Robinson first drew those double- and triple-teams at season’s start, he didn’t know what to do. At Kansas, he hadn’t been the focus of an opposing defense before. Frustration came first. Now he thrives on the attention.
Smith marvels at how Robinson has matured. So do Robinson’s teammates. Smith texts him reminders to focus on the NCAA tournament, not his draft prospects. The deaths of his mother and grandparents forced him to grow up, Smith believes. And, in the process, Robinson has become known for what he is doing on the court rather than what he endured off it.
Jayla Robinson lives with her father, James Paris, in the District after a custody dispute with Willatant Austin Jr., Lisa Robinson’s stepbrother, in Prince George’s County Circuit Court was dismissed in December.
Still, the sadness seems to come with any glimpse of Robinson. Self can’t seem to say enough nice things about his best player. Each mention isn’t far away from the words “tragic” and “terrible.”
“With the circumstances he’s under, he’s been really, really blessed,” Wilson said. “I know his mother is looking down on Earl, as she called him, and giving him a big smile and thumbs-up.”