Published November 20, 2014
In a horrific three-week span, Kansas forward Thomas Robinson and his 9-year-old sister have lost just about all the family they've ever known.
Their maternal grandparents died about two weeks apart. Then last Friday, Lisa Robinson, a single mom, died of an apparent heart attack in Washington, D.C.
Coach Bill Self said she had a stepbrother in the Washington area but Jayla Thomas and her brother, a 19-year-old sophomore, are just about all the family each other has now. And they are 1,500 miles apart.
The school has set up a scholarship fund for the little girl. Kansas has also hired a Washington attorney to see about financial and other considerations for the girl.
"All I know is I want Thomas to be comfortable with what's best for her," coach Bill Self said. "Thomas is all she knows."
Players and coaches of the sixth-ranked Jayhawks flew to Washington for services for Lisa on Thursday.
Associate athletic director Jim Marchiony said money and other offers of support have been coming in from around the country.
"Several people have expressed an interest in adopting Jayla," Marchiony said. "People are very concerned. This is truly a tragic situation. But it's all very preliminary at this point. It's really too early to even talk about these things. But people are very concerned."
In lieu of flowers, people have been asked to make contributions to the Lisa Robinson Scholarship Fund. Kansas is aware it must not violate benefits rules of the NCAA.
"The NCAA has been unbelievable," Self said. "They are trying to make as many allowances with the rules as they possibly can. In this situation, when there is as much hardship as there is, I think the NCAA is definitely looking out for the student-athlete welfare."