Mark Washburn of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER has the beyond bizarre story of longtime Carolina Panthers Stadium Announcer Jon Robinson. Washburn initially describes Robinson’s previous public life as:
High school basketball star who went to play for Lefty Driesell at the University of Maryland. Morning host on WBT-AM. News anchor on Channel 3. Stadium announcer for the Carolina Panthers. Cancer survivor.
Robinson was the Panther Stadium announcer since the franchise’s inception in 1995, until two months ago. Most recently, Robinson was also a high profile morning show DJ in Charlotte on a station that caters mostly to “suburban soccer moms.”
But when Robinson lost those jobs, he had a confession to make.
“I was lying the whole time and the crazy thing is people loved me for it. What I really wanted to say is, ‘I shot heroin last night and smoked crack and watched eight hours of pornos.’
“I’m a fraud. … I’m skid row.“
Robinson, 49, is now jobless. His Gastonia home is in foreclosure. He took out the last $1,400 of his savings this month, $300 of it earmarked to pay off a drug debt. Now the rest is gone, too. He expects to move into a homeless shelter.
He is gaunt, awash with despair and has thought of suicide. It is a stunning contrast to the handsome, athletic, vibrant professional image cultivated over two decades in the media limelight.
So why is Robinson coming out now? He claims it isn’t because he wants help, he just wants to set the record straight about who he really is, while also providing obvious clues to why he was so self-destructive:
He was 10 years old and playing with friends on Paramount Circle in Gastonia when a man pulled up and asked if any of them wanted to go to theYMCA to shoot hoops. Robinson went.
Within weeks, Robinson says, the man was coaching him in basketball and serving as the father figure he craved. He was also a pedophile who molested Robinson until he was 15, even as he trained him to be a basketball star, Robinson says.
In 1977, Robinson played on the Gastonia Hunter Huss High team that won the state championship with future pro player Eric “Sleepy” Floyd. In 1978, Robinson went to Maryland on full scholarship.
Albert Charles Burgess Jr. is the man Robinson claims molested him.
Burgess eventually “pleaded guilty in Gaston County to taking indecent liberties with six boys in Gastonia and served four years of a 20-year sentence. In 1985, he pleaded guilty to child molestation charges in Anderson, S.C., involving four boys, and served 13 years of a 25-year sentence.”
A month ago, Burgess was again convicted, this time on kidde porn charges.
The Observer piece chronicles the amazing media career of Robinson in the Carolinas considering his all-encompassing addictions. Eventually Robinson loses it all, including his family. His current wife has a restraining order out against him. When Robinson violated the court order, he was arrested and jailed.
Because of that jailing, “on Oct. 25, he missed his Sunday duty as stadium announcer for the Carolina Panthers, a job he had held since the franchise started in 1995. He is no longer with the team.”
Robinson has since had relatives reach out, and in one case a member of his family had Robinson hospitalized over fears that he was a “danger to himself.”
Robinson has since left the hospital and has pledged to go to Narcotics Anonymous. But he says he doesn’t want help until he reaches “rock bottom.”
I’m no expert in these kinds of situations, but isn’t that sort of *recovery* approach part of the problem?