David Robinson was born in 1965 in Key West, Florida. Despite playing just one year of high school basketball, Robinson went to become a star center at the U.S. Naval Academy. Selected first overall in the 1987 NBA draft by the San Antonio Spurs, Robinson didn’t play for the club until 1989 because of a two-year military commitment. Hailed as one of the game’s great centers, Robinson led the Spurs to two NBA titles before retiring in 2003.
The second child of Ambrose and Freda Robinson, David Maurice Robinson was born on August 6, 1965, in Key West, Florida. On account of his father being a sonar technician for the U.S. Navy, young David spent the early part of his childhood moving several times.
Robinson was an extremely bright child. When he was young he could total up his mother’s grocery bill before she arrived at the register. He learned to play piano by ear and at 14 was enrolled in advanced computer classes at a local college.
Following Ambrose Robinson’s retirement from the Navy, the Robinsons found a permanent home in Woodbridge, Virginia, where Robinson excelled in school, both in the classroom—math in particular—and in sports. But it wasn’t until his senior year at Osbourn Park High School that the tall and agile Robinson tried his hand at playing organized basketball.
After graduating in 1983, Robinson, who scored 1320 on his SATs, followed his father’s path and enrolled at the U.S. Naval Academy. There, he continued to play basketball, turning in a respectable freshman season by averaging 7.6 points per game.
Everything changed the following year. Sprouting an astonishing seven inches to 7'1", Robinson became one of the most dominant centers in all of college basketball. By his senior year he was the NCAA’s best player. He averaged 28.2 points and 11.8 rebounds per game that year and went to become the College Player of the Year. That spring, in the 1987 NBA draft, the San Antonio Spurs selected Robinson with the first overall pick.
Robinson was so good, in fact, that the downtrodden Spurs had chosen him knowing full well that the franchise would have to weather Robinson’s two-year military commitment before he could make his NBA debut.
When it happened in the fall of 1989, San Antonio was rewarded for its wait. That season Robinson earned the Rookie of the Year award, and over his first six years added an MVP and Defensive Player of the Year honors to his resume.
Playing in an era where big men like Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing ruled the court, Robinson proved to be one of the game’s all-time dominant centers. Over the course of his 14-year career, Robinson, nicknamed "The Admiral," averaged 21.1 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game.
In addition, he was a 10-time All-Star and in 1992 joined a legendary Olympic roster that featured Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan. Dubbed the Dream Team, the squad captured the gold at the Summer Games in Barcelona, Spain.
David Robinson also changed the fortunes of the Spurs. With teammate Tim Duncan he helped lead the franchise to a pair of NBA titles, in 1999 and 2003, the latter marking the end of his stellar career. In his final NBA contest, Game 6 of the Finals against the New Jersey Nets, the 37-year-old Robinson turned back the clock with a 13-point, 17-rebound performance.
Off the Court
Well known for his generosity, Robinson, a committed Christian, donated $9 million during his playing days toward the building of the Carver Academy, an independent school in San Antonio that’s geared toward students from culturally mixed communities.
With his wife Valerie, Robinson has three sons: David Maurice, Corey Matthew and Justin Michael.
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