Glenn Robinson III is dedicated to his craft as an NBA player.
He’s equally dedicated to the craft of being a dad.
Amidst a period in American history when the public outcry for racial justice is growing justifiably louder, Robinson III is tapping into those two key parts of his identity to spark positive change.
The veteran recently announced on social media that he’ll be using his personal foundation to support Black Lives Matter, and combat racism and police brutality.
Being a father to 2-year-old Ariana inspired Robinson to create The ARI Foundation.
“I started the foundation at the beginning of this season,” Robinson III said. “Our goal and our mission is to empower fathers, and then help families who don’t have father figures in their lives.”
Given the climate in America in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, initiatives like Robinson’s take on even more profound importance.
“We face a lot of trauma as men in general, but black men especially. You see a lot of players in the NBA who are fathers, and you see that we can use our brand – just like we are with racial issues – and use it in a positive way,” Robinson said.
Looking to be a change agent, Robinson III says education is the first step.
“The educational piece is so important. These things have been happening time and time again. At what point does it stop?”
But the second step – action – is even more important.
“When an issue like this comes out, everyone’s quick to make a statement. But what are you going to do? How are you going to help society? How are you going to help your community?”
For Robinson, action means a steadfast commitment to his community.
A native of Gary, Indiana, Robinson has made major financial contributions to local charities. He’s also now committing to match all donations to his foundation.
While Robinson III is quick to express love for his hometown, it was in that same community where he also experienced racial injustice first-hand.
Here, he retells the story:
“My rookie year, I got drafted, my dad helped me get a Porsche Panamera. I’m driving it back home, I had just got it, my two friends are in the car, all three of us are black. And I ended up getting pulled over. They asked for my license, and they say,
‘Oh, Glenn Robinson, you just got drafted right?’
‘Yeah I just got drafted, and I’m going down here to the high school.’
“And they let me go. But they wanted to know why a black man was in a Porsche. Why is a black man in a Porsche with friends leaving a Target? There are situations that occur like that every single day for us. Waking up as a black man, these are things we have to think about, that we shouldn’t. We have to move a certain way that others don’t.”
Robinson III’s experience was far from an isolated one – and he’s proud of his teammates and colleagues for speaking up too.
“I’ve been so proud to see my brothers across our team, and the NBA, be able to help so many people, and to be able to use their voice to commit to what we stand for,” Robinson III said.
The Sixer wing expressed special admiration for teammates Tobias Harris and Matisse Thybulle, along with General Manager Elton Brand, for participating in a massive peaceful protest in Philadelphia on Jun. 6.
“Me and Tobias have talked a little bit about what was going on,” Robinson III said. “Tobias is very smart, and I like to learn from everyone. Hearing from him, and Matisse, and everyone on the team, hearing different perspectives about this – no one’s wrong.”
In the long run, Robinson III thinks that his and his teammates’ experience with the fight for racial equality – and the dialogue it has created – will strengthen the existing bonds within the Sixers.
“Just to see our team come together, I see this creating more chemistry for us,” Robinson III said. “That’s important – to have that chemistry, to remain that brotherhood – leading into the playoffs. We’re going to need all that chemistry. I’m glad we’ve been able to keep in touch.”
When it comes time to return to the court, Robinson’s motivation will remain the same: be a positive role model on and off the court, using Ariana as his motivator.
“It means a lot to me to be able to say more than just words,” Robinson said. “And it’s my daughter’s legacy that I’m representing, and that means so much to me. If I can represent her in the best way possible, and help people, it’s a win-win for me.”