Gazette: Farrell Goes Extra Mile For Grieving Friend - UMass Athletics

Gazette: Farrell Goes Extra Mile For Grieving Friend

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Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a great story on Javorn Farrell and how he went out of his way to be their for a friend.

Anyone in the stands or watching on TV couldn't help but root for Thomas Robinson on Saturday.

The Kansas sophomore was playing for the first time since attending his mother's funeral two days before, a service that concluded a miserable month for the 19-year-old Washington D.C. native. Robinson's two grandparents died shortly before Lisa Robinson, his 43-year-old mother, died of an apparent heart attack on Jan. 21.

Only the most passionate of Kansas State fans, the Jayhawks' foe that afternoon, weren't wishing success for the heavy-hearted forward.

Few were rooting harder for Robinson than Javorn Farrell. The University of Massachusetts sophomore was glued to the television as the game aired Saturday night. He and Robinson were teammates at Riverdale Baptist in Upper Marlboro, Md., and have been very close ever since.

Farrell goes the extra mile to be with grieving friend

Photo: Farrell goes the extra mile to be with grieving friend#
AP PHOTO
Kansas' Thomas Robinson blows a kiss to a supportive crowd on the road against Kansas State last Saturday. He had 17 points and nine rebounds while playing through grief over the deaths of three family members.

AMHERST - Anyone in the stands or watching on TV couldn't help but root for Thomas Robinson on Saturday.

The Kansas sophomore was playing for the first time since attending his mother's funeral two days before, a service that concluded a miserable month for the 19-year-old Washington D.C. native. Robinson's two grandparents died shortly before Lisa Robinson, his 43-year-old mother, died of an apparent heart attack on Jan. 21.

Only the most passionate of Kansas State fans, the Jayhawks' foe that afternoon, weren't wishing success for the heavy-hearted forward.

Few were rooting harder for Robinson than Javorn Farrell.

The University of Massachusetts sophomore was glued to the television as the game aired Saturday night. He and Robinson were teammates at Riverdale Baptist in Upper Marlboro, Md., and have been very close ever since.

"I have three really good friends and he's one of them," Farrell said after UMass' game Sunday. "After what happened, I was personally heartbroken. I called him every day to make sure he was OK. I told him I was going to try my best to come to the funeral. He asked me to come."

After UMass' win at St. Bonaventure Wednesday, Farrell had coach Derek Kellogg's blessing to head to Washington D.C. for the Thursday funeral. But like every other part of the Minutemen's travel to and from western New York, it wasn't easy going.

"They canceled my flight. I would have done whatever I had to do to get there. I was looking at trains," Farrell said. "Eventually I took an hour and 30 minute cab ride to the airport and got out there. His family is not that big. Besides his mother and sister and few close relatives he has, his friends are like his family. I look at him as a brother. I had to be there."

The maturity of the 20-year-old Minuteman sophomore is obvious to anyone who has met Farrell, and his friends have benefited from it lately. It was Farrell who teammate Freddie Riley confided in less than two weeks ago when Riley found out a friend from home had been killed in a bowling alley shooting.

"It's hard. I try to do my best giving them words of encouragement. In times like that, words can't really help," Farrell said. "But just having somebody there means a lot."

Farrell was proud when Riley had a breakout effort later that night against Charlotte and was moved to see Robinson do the same. He had 17 points and nine rebounds off the bench in KU's 90-66 win as the Allen Fieldhouse crowd gave him a warm ovation.

"I knew he was going to have a big game. He's the hardest-working player I've ever played with. He told me before the game he was going to turn it up," Farrell said. "It felt good to see that."

The NCAA granted Kansas a waiver, allowing the school to send the entire Kansas team to the funeral and to raise money for the education of Jayla Robinson, Thomas' younger sister, who is in second grade. Donations can also be made electronically at www.lisarobinsonscholarshipfund.com.

UNDEFEATED/WINLESS - San Diego State's loss to BYU left Ohio State as the lone perfect school in the country. Centenary, which is transitioning out of Division I, is the only winless school left.

A-10 GAME OF THE WEEK: Duquesne at St. Bonaventure, Saturday, 7 p.m. - At 7-0, the Dukes are off to their best start ever in conference play and their 15-5 record is their best in almost 40 years. St. Bonaventure can be a difficult place for opponents and it's a potential trap game for the Dukes, who could be looking ahead to next week's game with Xavier.

THE BEST TEAM IN MASSACHUSETTS IS ... Harvard? - Despite the loss of standout Jeremy Lin, the Crimson currently lead the Ivy League at 4-0 heading into this weekend's games at fellow Ivy unbeatens Princeton and Penn. Harvard is 15-3 and boasts wins over Boston College and Colorado and an RPI of 58. Harvard hasn't made the NCAA Tournament since 1946.

HARD TO IMAGINE - Syracuse, which won its first 18 games, hasn't led for even a second in the last two games of its four-game losing streak. The Orange were the first top 10 team to lose four straight since Wake Forest in 2003-04.

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