Robinson is Michelle Obama’s oldest brother. At his sister’s request, he famously checked out his sister’s new boyfriend (and law firm colleague) by playing basketball with him. He later said: “When I played basketball with Barack, he was quietly confident, which means he had good self-esteem without being cocky. He was certainly a team player – he wasn’t a pig, he passed when he was supposed to pass, and he cut when he was supposed to cut. To me, that speaks to a lack of selfishness. He had natural leadership ability, because he didn’t just pass me the ball because he was dating my sister. Whenever a player gets tired, he reverts back to the player he truly is. That’s how you tell. And we played for hours. That’s how I could tell.”
Like his sister, Robinson graduated from Princeton University, where he was a two-time Ivy League basketball player of the year in the early 1980s. At the advice of his coach, Princeton’s famed Pete Carril, Robinson left basketball to get an MBA at the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business. He later became a bond trader and investment banker, but decided to return to coaching in 1999, taking a massive pay cut. He first worked six years as an assistant at Northwestern University, and then became head coach at Brown University. In 2008, the same year his brother-in-law was elected president, Robinson became head coach at Oregon State, which had been winless the previous year. He coached there for six years, compiling a not-very-distinguished career record of 93 wins and 104 losses (which still put him fourth in wins in the school’s history), and was fired in May.
ESPN also added Stan Heath, the former head coach at the University of Arkansas and the University of South Florida, to its commentator ranks. The pair of former coaches will debut during ESPN’s mid-November season-opening Hoops Tip-Off Marathon. Robinson’s first game will be Nov. 18, on ESPN2, in a game between Iona and Wofford.
In announcing its latest hires, ESPN noted in the very last sentence of the release: “A native of Chicago, Robinson, who is married with four children, is the oldest brother of U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama.”