Warriors' Glenn Robinson III aims to keep paternal ties strong
From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, a group of ducks visit the lobby of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis. While the Peabody Duck March has been a tourist attraction at the famous hotel for 90 years, most of the Warriors were uninterested by the mallards swimming in the lobby fountain in mid-November.
Not Glenn Robinson III. Always on the hunt for souvenirs he can send his 2-year-old daughter, Ariana, from the road, Robinson stopped by the gift shop. He gathered as many duck toys and dolls as he could and sent them to where she lives in Indianapolis with a card: Thinking about you from Memphis.
“I’m always thinking about her and trying to be the best (father) that I can be,” Robinson said. “Really, growing up, that’s all I wanted to do.”
Robinson, the son of former NBA All-Star Glenn Robinson Jr., has come to appreciate the struggles of maintaining a relationship with his child while playing in the NBA. It’s because of the distance between him and his daughter that Glenn III recently established ARI (Angels are Real Indeed), a foundation dedicated to empowering fathers and supporting single-parent households.
Growing up, Robinson didn’t have much of a relationship with his father and resented having to live up to his name on the basketball court. The time he spent with his dad was limited to summer vacations in the offseason.
Glenn Jr. broke up with Robinson’s mother, Shantelle Clay, when Glenn III was a small child. Glenn III and his brother, Gelen, were raised by their mother and maternal grandmother in Gary, Indiana, and rarely saw their dad. Though Robinson has formed a relationship with his father in recent years, the 25-year-old strives to make sure he is more involved in his daughter’s young life.
To connect with his daughter, Robinson makes sure to FaceTime with Ariana every morning before practice. He sends her voice memos and scrapbooks filled with pictures of the family and their dog, Julez. “Which are other ways that she can see me and she can feel involved and she can know who I am,” Robinson said.
He will see his daughter during upcoming trips to Orlando and Chicago. In March, they will connect in Indiana. However, with just three visits during the season and only so many duck toys to give, Robinson decided to dedicate his time to his daughter in other ways. In the time between workouts, plane rides and basketball games, he started ARI.
“Starting the foundation was something that was going to help me during my off time when I’m not playing. Like, OK, what are the things that I can do besides playing video games or just watching TV all day? I can create this foundation and make plans,” Robinson said.
“Just so I can keep myself busy so I’m not looking at it in a mad mindset, that I can’t see my daughter right now while I’m playing, while I’m working, trying to create a better life for her.”
On Tuesday, ARI held its first official event, donating 200 turkeys to the needy in San Francisco for Thanksgiving. Robinson intends to plan an event for every major holiday.
Recently, he hosted a dad, mom and son at a Warriors game. The lifelong Warriors fans from Oakland sat in a suite and met the starting forward. “Just to bring in the holidays this way, share with our son, and have these memories we can keep forever, we greatly appreciate it,” Terrell Tobias said.
Robinson also aspires to engage with fathers via speaking engagements, covering everything from frustrating battles with car seats to approaching custody concerns with judges. He cites statistics of depression afflicting not only children and mothers, but also fathers removed from their children’s lives.
By starting ARI — named after Ariana — Robinson is, in a way, spending more time with the daughter he thinks about so often.
“I really feel bad for those who don’t have fathers in their lives because I know how passionate I am,” Robinson said. “I need to do this.”