ST. JOHN | A lifetime of hopes and dreams and pressures and bumps hung on the shoulders of Lake Central senior Glenn Robinson III. It was weighty.
Heavier than you might think.
Sweating in the packed gymnasium in the city where his famous father could've been mayor, a live ball went bouncing out of play at West Side on March 3.
A lad in Highland blue and gold clutched the sectional championship game prize. Robinson walked over to retrieve it. L.C. ball. Kid hands ball to star.
Star says, "Thank you."
After L.C. won the title with a 63-37 win, L.C.'s No. 23 had a new fan. The youngster told his father he wanted to root for the Indians at the regional just because Robinson had been nice to him and said "Thank you" in the heat of battle.
"That meant a lot to me," Robinson said. "People know who I am. People look at me. So maybe the one thing I might say to someone in the day might have a big impact on them.
"He was a kid. I want to be nice and kind to them."
The Michigan-bound Robinson's game is extreme, which is why he is The Times Player of the Year for the 2011-12 season. The rest of his character almost makes L.C. coach Dave Milausnic happier.
Especially in a gilded age in athletics where stars often ignore the average person, or even worse, look down on the common. At least that's what the television shows often.
"It's one of those things that's infectious to the program," Milausnic said. "When your best player knows how to carry himself, talk to little kids, sign autographs for strangers, or smile and say hello to older folks, it changes everyone.
"He's a genuine kid. He was raised right."
In a year of firsts Robinson led the way, like Washington on that frozen boat. The Indians won their first Duneland Athletic Conference title. On the night of the "Thank you," they won their first sectional title in 15 years.
He averaged 19.97 points over three years on varsity. He is L.C.'s all-time leading scorer with 1,318 points. He also had a career 423 rebounds and 174 assists.
The 6-foot-6 wing averaged 21.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists this past winter.
He is the first Indian to win The Times Player of the Year since Dan Penn in 1992. Robinson's father won the two previous Times' honors before Penn.
"Yeah, I knew he was on that list," Robinson said of his father, the 1991 state champion and Mr. Basketball at Roosevelt.
Despite the golden genes running through his veins, the kid nicknamed "Tre" had doubts and heard the critics as a sophomore. Even though he was good, there were holes in his game.
Robinson credits Milausnic for opening the gym at 5 a.m. so the kid could grow into a man, on the court.
"When you look at a kid you hope to see steady incline from when he starts until he finishes," Milausnic said. "Glenn has done that. You ask your best player to make people around him better. He did that.
"He still scored. But he faced double teams, triple teams, all the time."
Valparaiso coach Joe Otis told Milausnic the Vikings tried to trick up their defense against Robinson and it fell null and void. Because of his unselfishness and ability to find teammates.
"When I committed to Michigan, it was the first time I was hit with negativity," Robinson said. "People said, 'You committed to Michigan? Huh? I heard people were talking behind my back.
"I wanted to prove that I was a good player."
Milausnic sums it up best when he said, "Glenn is the greatest player our program has ever had."
An upset loss to South Bend Adams in the regional still hurts. It likely took away any shot to win Mr. Basketball. But Robinson can still follow in his father's steps and continue the year of firsts in St. John.
Lake Central hasn't had an Indiana All-Star since 1984.
"That would mean a lot, not just to me because I don't care about individual things, but to coach and the people at Lake Central," Robinson said. "It would be special to hang that jersey up.
"If I make the team I will go out there and play my hardest."
And if he does, one thing won't change. He'll still say "Thank you" to a kid in Louisville.
"I hope people remember as a good basketball player but a better person off the court," Robinson said. "It's not just about myself. I want to help others."