Kevin Robinson is a powerhouse of BMX vert riding, throwing heavyweight tricks over the course of a long, successful career, and still showing no signs of backing down. Unfortunately, he’s been plagued with equally persistent injuries in recent times, forcing him to the sidelines when he’d rather be lighting up the ramp.
K-Rob powered through a shoulder injury last year to compete at X Games, but it ultimately got the better of him, popping out three times during his competition runs in Big Air and Vert. A series of surgeries (pushing him to a grand total of 42 times under the knife to this point!) had him back on track for the 2011 season, until an unforeseen accident took him out once again.
Many would falter at this point, but not a guy like Kevin, who not only preaches but also practices perseverance. The man who landed the world’s only double flair and who set the quarterpipe BMX high air record at 27 feet in 2008 has simply pushed into other outlets for his unending energy and motivation.
Long active in the charity realm, Kevin and his wife have established their own foundation to help kids in their hometown, and they’re both driving forward to do everything they can to help make young people’s lives better.
Kevin was recently at Woodward Camp’s Southern California location for the opening round of the 2011 MegaRamp Championship Series. He holds three gold medals in X Games Big Air, so he knows a thing or two about the MegaRamp, enough that he was asked to run the BMX side of things for the series. We got him to sit down for a few rare, relaxing minutes to talk about what’s been going on in his life; read on and hopefully find a little inspiration…
Bring us up to speed on what’s happening with your shoulder.
I originally hurt my shoulder 18 months ago; I was in Brazil for a MegaRamp contest and dislocated it. Shortly after that I had surgery on the rotator cuff and a month later I had surgery on the labrum. The rotator healed great, but I started riding too early for the labrum and damaged it. It started dislocating a few months later. I tried to get through the contest season, but it dislocated on me three times during X Games, so I got surgery a week later.
Everything was good -- so we thought. In October, I was doing some motivational speaking at a school, and I swung my arm back and the shoulder popped out -- during the presentation. I had more surgery in December and that one went great. I started riding again at about the end of March and was riding for a month and a half and feeling really good, like I was in the best shape I’d ever been.
Then I got in a car accident. Someone going about 45 mph blew through a stop sign and hit me. I got knocked out and tore the sub-scapular ligament in my shoulder – the only one I hadn’t torn yet. For this surgery , the doctor took a piece of bone out of my hip and put it in my shoulder. It’s the Ferrari of shoulder surgeries, so I should be good now.
How long will your recovery be?
Hopefully I can start riding by the beginning of August. I won’t be riding at X Games this year, first time since ’96. I’m going to be in the booth commentating for ESPN with Dennis McCoy and Jimmy Coleman, so I’m really excited about that. I’m also working with ESPN’s outreach program to help kids; I’ll be doing some motivational speaking on Thursday and Friday at X Games.
"I’ve got some big things planned for the summer of 2012, and that’s about all I can say."
I know you haven’t exactly been taking it easy in the off-season and during your recovery; tell us what you’ve been up to.
I started the K-Rob Foundation, which helps underprivileged kids in my hometown of East Providence, Rhode Island stay involved in athletics. We help pay for sign-ups for football or buy the equipment they need or buy a new bike if they want to get into bike riding. We don’t give money to any organizations or committees, it goes right to help the families directly. We just had a family fun event that was all about putting technology gadgets down and getting families out to be active and have fun, and we drew over four thousand people. The foundation is dear to my heart and the support I’ve gotten from my home state has just been amazing. Rhode Island wrapped their arms around me and I really appreciate it.
I’ve been doing the motivational speaking with Chris Poulos, he’s a former pro BMX flatlander. We’ve been doing a ton of those, sometimes three or four times a week. My wife and I just invented a kids’ safety product with a friend of ours, Mike Fisher, that will be launching pretty soon.
I’m working with Target, who sponsors both myself and Woodward Camp, to revamp their programs at camp, and I’m working with the YMCA near my house to help them start an action sports program. I’m also working on building a huge indoor action sports training facility in Rhode Island with a friend of mine, Amy Nelson, who owns Aim High Gymnastics, my daughter’s gymnastics school.
You’re here for the first MegaRamp Championship Series event as the BMX Sport Organizer. How did that happen?
They called me back in April to ask if I would help organize the BMX side of things, and back then, I was fully planning on competing, so I said that I’d be a little hesitant to do that if I were also riding in it. Then I got hurt so I called them back. I figured I’d help out in Brazil, then they put this event together at Woodward West. I’ll be doing it through the whole series. I want all the riders to have opinions and to tell me what they like and don’t like. The MegaRamp crew has been so amazing with supporting my ideas; I’m really happy with them and all the stuff they’re doing.
Check out some classic K-Rob footage from Woodward Camp:
It’s no secret that you love the MegaRamp; how hard is it to be here without being able to ride?
I was at Woodward East for a week, and I was watching Jamie [Bestwick] ride vert, and I thought, “You know, I’d like to be riding, but I’m okay with it.” I saw them building the Mini Mega at camp, and started thinking that it’d be really fun to ride that. Then I got out here, and now I want my bike so bad. It’s so hard to be here and not ride this ramp. It’s Disney World for me. I will ride it again, I’m not done. I’ve got a lot of things planned, a lot of really good ideas. I just let them swirl in my head and build momentum and I’ll make them happen.
Can you let us in on any of those ideas?
I’ve got some big things planned for the summer of 2012, and that’s about all I can say. I still have a lot of things I want to do on the MegaRamp, and I’m not going to stop until I get them done.
Are you looking forward to getting a little break from competing this year?
I actually am; it’s a nice change of pace. The main thing for me is that I want to still be involved as much as I can to maintain the integrity of the sport. I don’t want to see it fall into the wrong hands and go in a direction where we lose control of it. I want to help keep it going in a positive direction. I’m really excited for the future.
It’s great to see that you can plow through all of the injury setbacks with such a positive attitude…
When stuff like this happens, you want to sulk and sigh and say “Why me?” I can either sit and feel bad for myself and watch my life crumble and fade away, or I can take advantage of opportunities and make the life that I want. Nobody’s going to hand it to me. I have to work hard and go after it. I’ve done that my whole life, and I’ll continue to do so. I have three kids and a wife, and I want to give them the best life that I possibly can.