David Robinson never doubted that he would go to college. He did, after all, take apart television sets and reassemble them—just for fun—as a teenager, and his family was financially secure. It wasn't until he joined the Spurs and began speaking to kids in inner-city neighborhoods around the country mat he realized the obstacles many teenagers face in trying to go beyond high school. "I knew I couldn't change everything," says Robinson, "but I wanted to change something."
Seven years ago he made a pact with 91 fifth-grade students at Gates Elementary in San Antonio: If they got their high school diplomas, he would donate $2,000 toward furthering their education, whether at college or hairdressing school. This year those students are seniors. It's unclear how many of them will cash in on the Admiral's promise, but 45 attend monthly meetings set up by the David Robinson Foundation, at which they can arrange to receive tutoring, financial-aid information and assistance in filling out college applications.
Some students attend the sessions sporadically; others, like one learning-disabled girl, have never missed one. "She would have fallen through the cracks without this program," says Cara Smith, the special projects manager for Robinson's foundation.
Because the students have scattered to various high schools, keeping track of them isn't easy. One member moved to Alaska but mails his report cards to Smith. Another dropped out after having a baby and called to have her named removed from the mailing list. Instead, Smith persuaded her to take the GED exam. She passed and will use her $2,000 grant to study nursing.
Tomasha Morris, a senior at Sam Houston High in San Antonio, calls the program "the coolest thing." She will graduate in June and use Robinson's gift toward her tuition at Fisk University in Nashville. "He gave us something to hope for," she says of the Admiral. "I wouldn't have done this without him."
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Sabonis Is a 20-20 Vision
Trail Blazers center Arvydas Sabonis, March 12, versus the Timberwolves: 37 minutes, 9-13 FG, 10-11 FT, 28 points, 20 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 steals. Sabonis not only put up stunning numbers but also made a put-back that clinched Portland's 95-92 win.