David Robinson: Former NBA Player Turns to Education

The Admiral is one of America's Best Leaders because of his work with the Carver Academy.

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David Robinson was always one of the NBA's goody-two-shoes (in his case, a robust size 17), especially when he played alongside NBA bad boy Dennis Rodman in the mid-1990s. While other ballplayers' off-the-court behavior has landed them in the tabloids for one sin or another, Robinson, 44, a devout Christian, has made a name for himself in the world of philanthropy.

His most extensive project since hanging up his sneakers has been the Carver Academy, a pre-K-to-sixth-grade school in San Antonio where the curriculum mixes faith, languages, arts, and science. The school, which serves 120 children, many of them underprivileged, is named for George Washington Carver, the scientist, social activist, teacher, and inventor. "A well-rounded education has always been an issue close to my heart, and the school is a service project that will still be around long after I'm gone," Robinson says.

Fittingly, his moniker during his NBA career was "the Admiral," acquired because of his time at the Naval Academy, where he studied math and engineering. After fulfilling his service commitment, Robinson joined the San Antonio Spurs. When he retired 14 years later, he was judged one of the 50 greatest players in league history. "I would see a lot of kids, while traveling with the NBA, that wanted to be an NBA player or a rapper, and I thought that was just terrible. I want them to get an education first, and then they can go on and do whatever they want to with their lives," he says.

Nearly all students at Carver receive some type of scholarship, thanks in part to Robinson's largess. And the school has had proven results: Students score above the national average on the Stanford Achievement Test.