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July 20, 2012
The Bishop Robinson Story; Growing up in Kalamazoo's south-side neighborhood
BroncoBlitz.com had the opportunity to interview Western Michigan basketball recruit and Kalamazoo Loy Norrix star Bishop Robinson. In part one of our series, The Bishop Robinson Story details Robinson's life growing up in Kalamazoo's south side neighborhood.
This past Tuesday, BroncoBlitz.com made an attempt to contact Bishop Robinson for an interview, only to find out from his father that he was busy studying math. Meanwhile, the rest of his AAU teammates had just arrived to the team's hotel and were already down at the pool in sunny Orlando, Florida just two days before tip-off of the Super Showcase. But you wouldn't come to expect anything different from Robinson, in what actually seems to symbolize a kid who has persevered through distraction throughout his whole life.
Bishop Robinson was born in Kalamazoo's Northside neighborhood in 1995, and was raised in Kalamazoo's south-side neighborhood. In second grade, Robinson's parents picked up and left Kalamazoo for Muncie, Indiana for a change of scenery.
"We moved because my mom was in a struggle in Kalamazoo," Robinson explained. "There was nothing good here for her. She was getting arrested and getting into a lot of trouble, so we moved to Indiana. And it got better for a while."
But the back-and-forth trips between Muncie and Kalamazoo became too much of a burden for Bishop's mother, who frequently made trips back up to Kalamazoo by court order.
"People get into things as adults," said Darryl Matthews, Bishop's long-time AAU basketball coach.
Bishop and his parents were eventually forced to relocate back to the Kalamazoo area in 2006, where they finally settled in the south side Edison neighborhood near Hays Park and James Street.
"Sixth and seventh grade were the toughest times for me," Robinson said. "My mom up and moved to Virginia without telling anyone. So I started staying with my dad and my four brothers and sister. When I stayed with him, I was always having to be the babysitter for my step-mom and I was always responsible for a bunch of other stuff around the house."
Bishop Robinson was your typical 13-year old urban, poverty-stricken, neglected kid who's wild and loud behavior at Milwood Middle School kept getting him into trouble with teachers and other students.
"I didn't like school at all," Robinson said. "I just went because my friends were there. I had no intentions of doing anything. I always kind of just did my work and checked my grades so my dad would stay off my back and let me go out. I didn't care much about school at all."
Robinson routinely slept through classes at school, sometimes because it was the only place he felt like he could actually get sleep. Because of that, he was kicked out of classrooms and suspended from school, where he would be forced to go back home and roam the streets as a young adolescent. From there, the cycle would repeat itself over and over again for two straight years throughout middle school.
"I didn't have a curfew or anything," explained Robinson. "I was pretty much just runnin' the streets. It was eat whenever you eat, and sleep whenever you can sleep."
"There were always little kids my age wanting to be gang members. If you saw a group of kids start to fight, then they'd just jump you. You always had to watch where you went. So I usually stayed home."
"All of my friends were smokers, drinkers, and gang members," Robinson went on to say. "I never did that stuff, but when you're hangin' out with friends like that, they always try to pull you into it. I knew I didn't want to get involved with them but I still did, and I did dumb stuff with them all of the time," Robinson admitted.
"But eighth grade is really when everything changed for me."
April Rocco is a seventh grade teacher at Milwood Middle School. In 2007, Robinson was placed in her special reading class; a class primarily taught to 6th, 7th, and 8th graders to help improve reading and literacy skills. Like most of his other classes at Milwood, Robinson continued his pattern of bad behavior in Mrs. Rocco's class.
"I had her in seventh and eighth grade. I got kicked out of her class like all of my other classes," Bishop said shamefully. "She would take me out in the hallway and I would tell her how much I hated her all of the time."
But for some unexplainable reason, Robinson always ended up finding himself back in Mrs. Rocco's classroom. Robinson was kicked out of other classes so much that Mrs. Rocco's classroom was the only place left for him to go in eighth grade. Despite Robinson's poor behavior in her own classes, Mrs. Rocco provided him with a place to complete his homework in an environment that Bishop felt most comfortable in.
"When I got kicked out of other teachers classes, they would send me down to her classroom and I would finish all of my work there," said Robinson.
"It was hard to sit in class and listen to all of the teachers and other students so I would get my homework and go to her class. I don't know how she did it, but she learned how to settle me down. She was just more soothing to be around than all of the other teachers."
And that's how it all began...
Check back tomorrow at BroncoBlitz.com for Part Two of "The Bishop Robinson Story" series. Use The Knollwood Tavern to discuss and comment anything related to Bishop Robinson and his amazing, inspirational story.
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