In a church filled with mourners Thursday, Thomas Robinson laid a Kansas jersey in his mother’s casket.
Then, while the entire Kansas basketball team and coaching staff watched in teary-eyed silence, 7-year-old Jayla Robinson placed a stuffed toy Jayhawk next to her mother.
About 200 mourners were in the Antioch Baptist Church in snowy Washington, D.C., on Thursday for services for Lisa Robinson, who died unexpectedly of an apparent heart attack at age 43 and triggered a family crisis which has touched fans around the country.
Thomas found out his mother had died when Jayla called him about 11 p.m. Friday. In a three-week span, Jayla and Thomas, a sophomore forward for the sixth-ranked Jayhawks, lost their grandmother, grandfather and mother.
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Lisa Robinson was a single mother. Kansas officials said the tragic series of losses left Thomas and Jayla with almost no family they have ever been close to except each other.
“It was a beautiful service,” Kansas coach Bill Self said upon his return after the university plane landed in Topeka, Kan. “There were a lot of people who showed up. You could tell she was definitely loved and had a lot of friends.
“Thomas is doing about as well as he possibly can. He’s crushed, which you would expect him to be. Certainly the service was uplifting though. (It) also brought some laughter to everybody, too, which I think was good.”
Self said Thomas would return to Lawrence today, but he was not sure whether the promising 19-year-old forward would play Saturday when Kansas hosts Kansas State.
With the permission of the NCAA, the school has set up the Lisa Robinson Scholarship Fund to raise money for Jayla’s education.
Kansas fans have responded with an outpouring of sympathy and support for Thomas and his little sister. There have even been inquires from people offering to adopt Jayla.
TOP 25 HIGHLIGHTS
Michigan 61, at No. 25 Michigan State 57: Zack Novak scored 19 points, and Stu Douglass made a big 3-pointer with 20 seconds to go to lift the Wolverines (12-9 overall, 2-6 Big Ten) past the Spartans (12-8, 4-4), who are on a three-game skid.
At Indiana 52, No. 20 Illinois 49: Jordan Hulls scored 12 of his 18 points in the second half, and Tom Pritchard’s tip-in with 44.2 seconds to go lifted the Hoosiers (11-10, 2-6 Big Ten) to the upset of the Illini (14-7, 4-4).
At No. 18 Iowa 66, No. 10 Michigan State 64: Michigan State’s Lykendra Johnson missed a putback at the buzzer, and the Hawkeyes (16-5, 4-4 Big Ten) held off the Spartans (18-3, 6-2).
At South Carolina 57, No. 20 Georgia 48: Courtney Newton made all five of her 3-pointers and scored 16 points to help the Gamecocks (12-9, 4-4 Southeastern Conference) snap a seven-game winning streak by the Bulldogs (16-4, 6-1).
No. 21 Florida State 102, at Boston College 93: Cierra Bravard scored 11 of her 21 points in the final 61/2 minutes, and Alexa Deluzio hit a pair of key 3-pointers, helping the Seminoles (17-4, 5-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) hold off the Eagles (15-6, 2-4), who got a career-high 30 points from Stefanie Murphy.
Michigan 69, at No. 24 Ohio State 66: Rachel Sheffer scored five of her 23 points down the stretch, and the Wolverines (13-7, 6-2 Big Ten) rallied from a 14-point deficit to beat the rival Buckeyes (13-7, 4-4).