LaChina Robinson: Living to Inspire
July 12, 2016
Story by Monica Miller | Originally published online at www.ncaa.org/formerstudentathlete
LaChina Robinson was 14 years old when she traded her cheerleading skirt and pompoms for basketball shorts and a jersey. As a 6-foot-4 high school freshman, she was apprehensive about competing in a sport she had never played.
"Yes, I was tall, but I wasn't good," she said. "I had to work at it, which I did. I found my place and fell in love with the game in high school."
Basketball opened up a new world for Robinson, leading her to Wake Forest University on a basketball scholarship and gaining a college degree for her -- the only one in her blended family of 16 children. Today, she remains close to the game she loves as a broadcaster and basketball analyst for ESPN and Fox Sports.
Robinson and four siblings grew up with their mom in a single-parent household in Alexandria, Virginia. Having worked in banking and real estate, her mother emphasized hard work and education as a pathway to future opportunities.
"I knew education could take me wherever I wanted to go in life," Robinson said. "Basketball was a way to fund my college education."
Her dad lived in Boston and blended family gatherings with her 11 half-brothers and half-sisters were large, competitive and full of great memories, Robinson recalled. Her father, who did not finish high school, was an independent newspaper owner and publisher. Seeing him overcome obstacles and find his way to a publishing career inspired her to think anything was possible -- including college.
During her freshman year at Wake Forest, Robinson set a goal to work hard and graduate with a 3.0 GPA. She started at center on the women's basketball team, developed into a valuable front-court player for the Deacons, was named to the Atlantic Coast Conference all-freshman team and made the dean's list.
Her game continued to improve, but Robinson's grades slipped during her sophomore year.
"My advisor said if I didn't pick up the pace in the classroom, I would not achieve the goal I set for myself -- a 3.0 overall GPA," she said. "It was the wakeup call I needed, and from that day forward, I learned to show up and always bring my A-game in all I do."
That work ethic continues to drive her. After graduating from Wake Forest with a degree in sociology, she wasn't ready to walk away from sports. Robinson worked in various administrative roles for the ACC and Georgia Tech Athletic Association and was a facilitator for student-athletes at NCAA-sponsored leadership conferences.
She also found her voice, literally, by filling in when asked to call a Georgia Tech women's basketball game for a radio broadcast.
"From the moment I put headphones on, I knew I had found my true calling," she said.
She lives to inspire others through social media, speaking at conferences and symposiums, and by volunteering in community programs such as the GivingPoint.
Robinson was the recipient of the 2009 Atlanta Dream Women of Inspiration Award and was inducted into the Alexandria City Public Schools Inaugural Hall of Fame in Alexandria, Virginia in 2014.
"Being a student-athlete at Wake Forest came with responsibility," Robinson said. "It provided a platform to positively influence others, especially young girls and boys. There was a standard of excellence that came with it, and for me, it was life-changing."
To find similar stories and a career center for former NCAA student-athletes, visit NCAA After the Game at www.ncaa.org/formerstudentathlete.
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