The late Stanley Robinson isn’t a household name, but there was a time when he was an up-and-coming UConn star. Playing for Jim Calhoun’s legendary program, Robinson was part of a core group that took them from mediocrity to contention in four years. Following his tragic death, former teammate Kemba Walker reflected on his friendship with Robinson.
Stanley Robinson’s basketball career
Robinson came into the college basketball scene in 2006. At the time, the Huskies were recovering from losing the bulk of their prior team’s star players. Thanks to Hasheem Thabeet, Robinson, and the group, the team did not have to wait long to become great again. After a middling first season with Robinson, the team was back in the tournament in his sophomore season. Unfortunately, the team faced an upset in the first round.
After the disappointing exit, the school welcomed a promising young star named Kemba Walker. Walker provided the team with valuable production off the bench, while AJ Price and Jeff Adrien continued their roles as leaders from the previous year. The Huskies made it to the semifinals, where they lost to Michigan State.
The team suffered a significant fall-off for Robinson’s senior year. While it was his best year as a college player, the team failed to make the tournament after losing both Price and Adrien. Robinson was the penultimate pick of the 2010 NBA Draft, but after failing to make it past the G-League, he spent the rest of his life playing internationally.
The death of Stanley Robinson
On July 21, 2020, an ambulance went to the home of Robinson after he was found unresponsive at the scene. At the time, Robinson was healthy, and the causes of his death remain unknown. There was no suspicion of foul play. At just 32 years old, Robinson’s tragically short life proves a reminder of life’s fragility.
Former coach Jim Calhoun reflected on his former player, thinking back to the time when Robinson left the team for a semester to work at a junkyard and improve his commitment to hard work and sacrifice.
“I am truly heartbroken,” said Calhoun per CBS News. “Stanley was such a beautiful person, caring and giving. He was a gentle soul, too gentle for this world … He was not only loved by his teammates, but everybody who met Sticks liked him. He will always be a Husky.
Kemba Walker reflects
Robinson’s death came at a time when former teammate Walker was getting ready for his return to the court in the Orlando Bubble, according to MassLive. The death of his former teammate weighed heavily on him in the days leading up. Walker spoke about his former teammate before the Celtics took the court.
“It’s tough,” Walker said (per MassLive). “I mean, it was really, really shocking to hear that news. I played with Stanley for two seasons. He was just a happy guy man, like, always smiling, always in a good mood. He was fun to play with. He was an upperclassman, so he was a guy who I watched before I got there. He was fun to play with, throwing lobs and stuff like that. So yeah, it’s just a really sad moment. I feel really bad for his family, his kids. He’s a Husky forever. May he rest in peace.”
Robinson’s impact on everyone around him was undeniable. While his death was inarguably tragic, his positive impact on coaches, teammates, and everyone around him shows that his legacy will continue to live in those whose lives he impacted.