The Impact of Kevin Robinson
Kevin Robinson -- friend, father, husband, son and legend -- left this earth on Saturday after suffering an apparent stroke. It still doesn't seem real. There aren't too many people who truly embody the phrase "larger than life." And as I'm quickly learning, when you have someone who is indeed larger than life in your life, it's hard to comprehend that life being gone.
I first met Kevin Robinson through our mutual love for BMX riding in the 1990s. At the time, Kevin was the regional New England pro who was breaking through into the major pro ranks and making a name for himself in videos and magazines. Instead of dropping everything and heading to California, he chose to stay in New England, open his own skatepark and foster the current and future local BMX scene around him.
He opened a skatepark called Impact. And he did his absolute best to grow the scene around him. He held local competitions. He welcomed lowly flatland riders from New Jersey into his apartment to sleep the night before competitions, and he helped the scene gain national exposure. Impact lasted a few years before Kevin's calling pulled him away to pursue his role as an influential, legendary BMX pro.
That calling: The X Games, living at Woodward Camp, traveling the world, pushing the boundaries of what was possible on a BMX bike both on the vert ramp and on the MegaRamp, propelled Kevin from regional pro to international stardom. And he worked as hard as any BMX rider possibly could to make it happen. He legitimately made his dreams come true. And he continued to dream, even when he was hearing from everyone around him, "Hey, let's just go get a coffee and chill out for a while."
Ultimately, Kevin's on-screen BMX career culminated on live television in August 2016, in his hometown of Providence, Rhode Island. He spent the past two decades traveling the world, only to return to the place he knew best to set a world record. He got pulled by a quad with a makeshift tow rope that included duct tape, backflipped an 84-foot gap that his own father was sitting under and triumphantly rode away after one failed attempt that would have scared any normal human away.
Everyone in attendance felt the impact of Kevin Robinson's love for riding on that day. It was infectious, it was nuts, and it was signature Kevin Robinson, done exactly the way he wanted to do it.
It's made the recent news even harder to comprehend. But my main comfort over the past two days has been the outpouring of love, admiration and appreciation of Kevin's life, drive and sincere dedication to doing good in this world. And this reaches far beyond the BMX community, which he poured his heart and soul into. Kevin Robinson knew no boundaries, and that extended to everyone he encountered throughout his life. The first example that comes to mind was the school demonstration Kevin did last week at a school named Black Rock. Kevin was an active Instagrammer, and he promoted the demonstrations he often did for schools. In the comments, a student Kevin had performed for left a message. She said, "I'm the girl who said she did gymnastics today at Black Rock."
Kevin, of course, went out of his way to reach back out: "Keep working hard at gymnastics, glad to meet ya," he said.
He didn't need to do this. And he wasn't doing it for attention or social media points. He did it because he cared, and because he knew and genuinely believed in his heart that he could positively impact every single person he encountered in life. That impact remains with every person he did encounter, and that power will continue to extend from him through us and to others.
That's what he would have wanted.