The will to survive and thrive

Kirk Bohls:
Ryan Roberson has always kept the faith, even when life’s challenges told him not to.

“I have to, man, because of all the stuff I’d been through,” Roberson said this past week. “I just basically keep believing in the Lord.”

And himself.

That internal resolve and Christian commitment have never left Texas’ fifth-year senior running back, who played his final home game as a Longhorn and experienced more misfortune in a painful, 20-13 loss to TCU on Thanksgiving night. He and his fellow seniors will play their final regular-season game this week, at Kansas State.

He started the game at fullback, but didn’t have a carry or a catch. In fact, Roberson’s only mention in the boxscore is a solo tackle on special teams. But he’s often been in the Longhorns’ background as a role player, contributing any way he can, after starring as a two-way starter for Brenham High School.

His friends and family would expect nothing less of the young man they call “Robo.” They call him the ultimate teammate. Mack Brown said he’s never heard him complain once. His high school head coach thinks so highly of him, he’s already offered him a job on his staff. His teammates call him reliable, trustworthy and selfless. Luke Poehlmann, a childhood friend and a Longhorns senior lineman, calls Roberson “a silent worker.”

Roberson calls himself blessed.

You’d never know that he’s had more than his share of adversity since growing up in the Old Washington community, which hardly qualifies as a gated community a half hour east of Brenham that produced stars Wilson Whitley, Roosevelt Leaks and Limas Sweed and later Roberson, an all-state linebacker and tailback. You’d never guess he experienced a painful adolescence when his mother went to prison on drug-related charges, his father remarried and moved away and his younger sister was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and given weeks to live after surgery.

They’re all fine now and were by his side Thursday night. His mother Legina’s clean, and Tanika’s cancer is in remission.

“He almost raised himself,” said Glen West, Roberson’s high school coach at Brenham.

Roberson discards bitterness like the bruising fullback used to would-be tacklers.
There is much more.

Old Washington is the area where my property is located.  You may not recognize the names of some of the other players from the area mentioned in the story, but they were all very good athletes.  Whitley was an All American at the University of Houston.  Leaks was a star fullback at Texas and was the first black to become a stand out at UT.  Sweed was a very good wide receiver.  Roberson sounds like a high character guy who came from a family where that was not always present.  He is an example of how people with will to succeed can overcome their circumstances.


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