As a freshman, I had the life-changing opportunity to sit down with the wife of renowned Coach Eddie Robinson at their home in Grambling for an article on the foot- ball legend. I toured the house and heard the romantic story of a childhood interest that grew into a life-long love story.
Robinson and his wife, Doris, had eyes for each other as teenagers. Her family was a little better-off than Eddie’s single mother, but financial status was not relevant to this young girl, her love for him was genuine from the beginning. The two set off to different colleges after high school but that could not keep them apart, by the time graduation came, they were receiving degrees from the same institution and pre- pared to set out into the world together.
Both Robinson and his wife worked hard together in Grambling and built a life together. She remembered that during times of war, Eddie had to search hard to even find enough healthy men to play for the Tigers. Through these hard times, they still stuck together and built a family and a house.
When I visited them in their home, it was humble and well-kept with decorated pictures of Robinson, his family, and friends galore. I saw at least five albums of pictures of Eddie during his career and his wife said they had so much memorabilia; they had a storage unit to keep it all.
One room in the house that stands out in my memory was the room she decorated after their time in Japan . The Robinsons traveled with the Tigers across the world and took in the culture together. The room reflects their experiences and the culture that they experienced in Japan .
After touring the house, Mrs. Robinson asked me if I wanted to meet Eddie, I was nervous but I agreed. The conversation had been friendly and casual up to this point, but this was the moment that would change my life. I had known who “Coach Rob” was as long as I could remember. My mother had attended Grambling and she instilled in me a love for all things related to Grambling, we had “400 wins” paraphernalia around the house and to me, that was what the Black and Gold of Grambling State University stood for. Coach Robinson was the face of Grambling to me.
I also remembered when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the distress and sadness my family expressed when it was announced on the news. I doubted that I would ever meet Robinson after that but there I was, offered the opportunity to meet the man, even if he was only a piece of his original self, it was to me, one of the most important moments of my life.
I entered their bedroom, Coach Robinson was sitting in the bed, watching Oprah, Michael Jordan was the guest that day. She introduced me to him and I held back the tears, afraid of what they would expose: the excitement of meeting a legend, or the sad- ness of seeing him fade away. Coach Robinson’s eyes still had the twinkle of a man that knew happiness, a man that really understood how to love.
We left him in the bedroom to close our discussion. My tears started to flow and Doris did not attempt to stop the tears, I think she understood my feelings. She went on to tell me that she wanted to try to continue taking care of him but it was becoming difficult, then she said the one thing that stood out in my mind ever since that day and especially since his passing; it was close to, “I don’t know how long I’ll make it after he’s gone.”
With that statement, I understood exactly how deep and real their love was. I can only pray that each of us can experience a love as fulfilling and true as the love Eddie Robinson and his wife shared. I’m satisfied that he can finally rest but we will always remember “Coach Rob.”
– Juliuna Mitchell is a GSU graduate from Jackson, Mich.