Grathen “Sugar” Robins passed away quietly around 6:00 a.m. on Sunday morning. Arnold Bain, a former Bahamas Basketball Federation President called me with the sad news.
No doubt, many in the Bahamian sports fraternity were not quite familiar with Sugar in life. A lot more of those who function on the national sporting landscape know of the other Robins, Charlie, the one, called “Softly,” who is one of the nation’s legendary high school basketball players and presently heads The Bahamas Basketball Federation.
The elite of the basketball family knew Sugar well though. On Sunday, Gladstone “Moon” McPhee, the coaching czar, and I shared a nostalgic moment, reminiscing our interactions over the years with Sugar.
Charlie and I did as well.
Carol Smith-Gomez, who lost her father, Cyril Smith the sports icon recently, also lamented Sugar’s passing. In Bimini she was a contemporary of Sugar’s and expressed words that bore out the sorrow of yet another national contributor of substance, moving on into eternity.
Sugar was special with his nation-building work through youth and sports development, particularly in his native island of Bimini. In recent decades, giants of the sports movement in Bimini either died or retreated quietly into less active lives.
Meanwhile, Sugar emerged as an acknowledged chief mentor of the youth of Bimini.
He was awesome with his basketball outreach program. For the last 10 years, he struggled mightily with bad knees and then a serious back ailment made movement much more uncomfortable for Sugar. But he hobbled along, of late, needing to resort to crutches.
Nevertheless, he would courageously fold his long aching body into planes in order to travel with teams to guide his players in competition. I have a vivid memory of Sugar gingerly crossing Adventurers Way in downtown Freeport. My last networking opportunity with Sugar was at a tournament last year, in the St. Georges’ Gymnasium. I entered the gym and heard that loud baritone voice calling out to me.
We talked about his continuing role in youth development in Bimini.
He admitted that his body gave him many challenges, but nothing about Sugar indicated that he was ready to pack it in. We talked about his desire to assist in reviving the Yama Bahama Youth Club that was started some eight years ago by the Pan American Caribbean Boxing Organization (PACBO) in Bimini, with Vincent Ellis.
Sugar was there along with Ellis, as I conducted registration assisted by Meacher Major on behalf of PACBO. Thirty-four young Bimini natives were given sports equipment and sports attire on that day. The Local Government group, at the time, was very interested and supportive as well. Local Government in Bimini actually allocated an area as a prospective base of operation for the Yama Bahama Youth Club. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, the club never became firmly established.
A revival of the club was always a desire of Sugar’s. Such was his overall approach to youth development in Bimini.
Now, he is gone and there is no one that I know of in Bimini, prepared at this moment to take his place in mentoring the young boys of that island and steering them towards a wholesome lifestyle.
Such was the value of Sugar.
He will be missed, greatly.
I extend condolences to Charlie, Carol and the rest of family/close friends network in Bimini.
The nation has lost a high quality contributor through sports.
Rest in peace Sugar!
• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at email@example.com. or Whatapp me at 727-6363
Published Wednesday, April 19, 2017