A miniscule number of college athletes graduate into the professional ranks.
Those who do may not survive for more than a year or two.
Only a very few will have long careers.
Former Ram Freddy Robinson is one of our own, trying to become a member of the NBA, a 23-year-old from an all-to-classic rough and tumble background. While most of us prepare for a school break and a Thanksgiving holiday, Freddy is currently in Sioux Falls, S.D., nearly 700 miles from the Fort Collins community he once called home.
After being drafted earlier this month by the Sioux Falls Skyforce – an NBA development league (D-league) team – Freddy moved to a motel up there and began intense practices and competitive play in an effort to secure a spot on the roster. If he survives, he could remain on the D-League for years or he could be one of the lucky ones and get called up to play in the Show – possibly the Minnesota Timberwolves or the Charlotte Bobcats.
The competition is fierce and Freddy will be fighting for a job against NBA veterans who have been bumped down to the D-league to reprove themselves. In Sioux Falls, there are 16 guys battling for 10 jobs. One of them is a CSU alum named Freddy Robinson.
Last Friday, he walked through the west terminal at DIA, holding the hand of his long-time girlfriend, Jennifer. At one point, he stopped and kissed her, the woman he shares a home with, along with her 3-year-old son. If Freddy is cut, which he could be as soon as today, the couple will be reunited far too soon. A second D-league cut is scheduled in exactly a week.
The evolution from his May graduation from CSU to now has been arduous, painful and, in his own words, nerve-wracking. Despite the battle, Freddy embraces this mantra: “You gotta work hard at everything. You gotta work hard every day.”
For more than six months, Freddy’s daily routine went something like this: Rise early and be at the gym by 8 a.m. – some days swimming, other days riding a stationary bike. The workouts included lifting weights, running and practicing, over and over, every aspect of the Game.
After a grueling workout, most days saw him head to his job at Sutherland’s home improvement store on Prospect Avenue, where he did everything from loading lumber to chatting with customers. Jennifer, also a CSU grad, has worked at Sutherland’s for a decade. If she wasn’t there during his shift, Freddy would talk to her about their dinner plans on the phone. If he had to be at Sutherlands on a Saturday, Freddy would sometimes share a meal with coworkers, enjoying juice and some homemade tacos.
Freddy was a star forward for the Rams during his college career. His Facebook fans laud him as a big deal, and he is. It’s a long way to the NBA from Tulsa, Okla., where he was raised by his mom Scorra and older brother Rico. Tragedy came early, and often. Freddy’s dad abandoned him when he was real young and eventually landed in prison. Rico committed suicide as an adult. Mental turmoil runs in the family but Freddy has persevered.
But sources of strength remain intact for him. Freddy’s brother Courtney is a firefighter and barber in Tulsa. Ever since Rico passed, Freddy has been closer with Courtney, “That’s my guy,” Freddy says of his surviving older brother.
The plan is to play hoops with the big guys but if that doesn’t happen, Freddy says he may cut hair for a living like his brother.
If he makes it, Freddy’s first season game for the D-league will be Nov. 24 in Tulsa. Not a bad way to come home.