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TRIALS OF DAVID
Leigh Montville
April 29, 1996
SAN ANTONIO SPURS CENTER AND BORN AGAIN CHRISTIAN DAVID ROBINSON IS TRYING TO LEAD HIS TEAM TO AN NBA TITLE AND REMAIN PURE IN A WORLD BESET BY THE SEVEN DEADLEY SINS
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April 29, 1996

Trials Of David

SAN ANTONIO SPURS CENTER AND BORN AGAIN CHRISTIAN DAVID ROBINSON IS TRYING TO LEAD HIS TEAM TO AN NBA TITLE AND REMAIN PURE IN A WORLD BESET BY THE SEVEN DEADLEY SINS

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All this was new and exciting information to Robinson. The Bible was a manual? He never had thought of this. He jumped into the Bible as if it had been written by Bill Gates, describing the latest Microsoft wonders. Robinson became, according to Ball, "a sponge." He was so excited he called his younger brother, Chuck, to tell him the news. He was reading the Bible!

"David," Chuck replied, "you're scaring me."

A week after his conversation with Ball, Robinson was baptized in a private ceremony. He had always had this dignified public image as the Admiral, but now he was able to wear it more easily. He had his foundation. He knew where he was going. The sycophants still appeared, but he didn't listen. He was making his own judgments. "I'd always told myself I was a good guy, no matter what I'd done," he says. "I think everybody tells himself that. I'm sure Jeffrey Dahmer, if you'd asked him, would have said, 'I might have done some bad things, but underneath, I'm a good guy.' The question is, whose definition of a good guy are you using? Your own?"

He now had a different definition. He had found it in the manual.

DAVID ROBINSON VERSUS LUST

There was a woman involved in all of this. Her name was Valerie Hoggatt, and she had been introduced to him by a friend in 1988, while he was in the Navy on temporary duty in Port Hueneme, Calif. David and Valerie dated for a couple of months, and when he returned to Kings Bay (Ga.) Naval Submarine Base, the relationship continued by long distance. She visited him. He visited her. She became his girlfriend. Now, in 1991, she was his ex-girlfriend.

"I had broken up with her," he says. "I told her that she loved me too much. I said that I could never have the love for her, the passion for her, that she had for me. I had to find someone I could love as much as she loved me."

There certainly were options. Handsome, with Popeye-sized muscles on public display, with his financial worth spread across the sports pages, he was an obvious attraction. Women he would have considered too beautiful to ask for a date to the senior prom were now chasing him. He didn't have to do a thing, didn't have to be sophisticated, warm, intelligent, loving, didn't even have to carry a conversation. This was another amazing thing about pro basketball life. "These are the women you've been looking at from a distance...and now they're calling your room," he says.

He met some of these women, had some dates. The dates were pleasant enough, but they seemed to add to his general lack of fulfillment. He was with the most beautiful women on the planet. He still wasn't happy. What was the deal? After he found religion, his mind went back to Valerie.

How could he have said what he said to her? How could he have rejected her love so easily? He replayed their relationship in his mind. It had been based entirely on her loving him. He hadn't even tried to love her. His effort had been the minimum. Her effort had been the maximum. He hadn't even noticed. How could he have turned down that kind of love? "I called her and told her how I'd been reading the Bible," he says. ''She said she also had been reading the Bible. We got back together. We read the Bible together. She was the same sweet, wonderful person she had been before and is now. I just hadn't been paying attention."

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