Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017 | 2 a.m.
Quinton Robbins was the best basketball player on the court for Basic High School in this game. He made jump shots, played strong defense and competed with such energy his teammates followed suit.
But in the next game, he was slouched on the bench with shortness of breath from managing symptoms of his diabetes. Some days Robbins’ illness appeared to be so bad that coach Leonard Taylor once asked if he wanted to stop playing on the team and transition to another role in the program.
“But he wasn’t hearing any of that,” Taylor said. “The one thing about Q, the kid was a competitor. He gave us everything he had.”
The same can be said about his death. Robbins was one of the 58 concertgoers killed Oct. 1 in the mass shooting on the Strip during a music festival. He was fatally wounded toward the end of the 11-minute barrage, but only after helping his girlfriend escaped unwounded.
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Taylor never expected to receive this message.
“I woke up at 3 in the morning, and the first text was, ‘Did you hear Q got shot on the Strip?,’” Taylor said. “The second (message) confirmed he died. Q was the most nonconfrontational kid. I wouldn’t think he’d get in a fight.”
Then he turned on the television.
“My kid is right in the middle of the worst day in Nevada history; worst mass shooting in the country’s history,” Taylor said.
Robbins and his girlfriend took cover when shots rang out, Taylor said. They attempted to escape when the shooting slowed, but Robbins was struck in the chest. He died at age 20.
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When Robbins graduated from Basic in 2015, Taylor was determined to keep him in the program. He asked the 18-year-old to join his coaching staff on the freshman team. It’s rare to have a teenager coaching other teens, but Robbins was the exception to the rule.
He thrived in his responsibility because he was mature beyond his years. Younger players gravitated to him and respected his command. They were attracted to his dedication and passion for the sport.
“He was one of the best young mentors that I have ever seen,” Taylor said. “He was such a good role model. Those kids looked up to him because he was such a quality person.”
Robbins also coached his younger brother’s flag football team and worked in the Henderson’s recreation department. Taylor was so impressed with Robbins’ poise that he intended to promote him to the junior varsity team and frequently talked to him about a career in the coaching industry. Robbins, though, was determined to be a dentist.
Robbins’ dad and uncle also coach at Basic; his cousin plays for the Wolves’ varsity team. Robbins was never paid to coach and never asked for compensation. He just wanted to be part of greater good.
“They are part of our family,” Taylor said. “They have done so much for us.”
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One by one, players arrived hours after the shooting at Taylor’s physical education office in tears the morning after the shooting. Together they grieved.
“Cried like a baby for two straight weeks. It was like I lost one of my own,” Taylor said.
When the season starts in a few weeks, many tributes to Robbins are planned. Basic will retire his jersey No. 3, Taylor has ordered apparel with his name and other programs have indicated they are organizing pregame tributes.
One of those tributes occurred Saturday at Coronado during the Halloween Hoops all-star game. Players, referees and tournament officials sported blue “Basic Strong” shirts with “Q” on the back, and a five-minute pregame ceremony included memories of Robbins’ and a moment of silence.
About 20 of his family members attended, but on this night, it felt as if we were all family. (I was one of the guest coaches in the game and took part).
The ceremony closed with the one of Basic’s longtime catchphrases, ‘Once a Wolf, Always a Wolf.’ On this day, though, we were all Wolves.
“Everything we do this year will be to honor him,” Taylor said. “That kid will be honored the way he deserves.”