ROUNDBALL DAILY

Aubrey Robinson went beyond the call by surprising an 11-year boy with a new basketball and hoop after she saw him playing with a bent one

Aubrey Robinson (right) with her new pal Elijah. Photo: Coledo Wheeler (USA Today)

This is a basketball story to remind us how great some people can be.

It’s about a 38-year old woman, Aubrey Robinson, who makes Fed-Ex deliveries, and an 11-year old boy, Elijah Maines, who loves to shoot at hoops.

The driver, while making her rounds in a mobile home park just outside of West Harrison, Indiana, would see the boy shooting at a rusty and bent hoop, almost too warped for a ball to go through.

“It was crazy to see how happy he was with the bent up, broken hoop. Every time I saw him he was so joyful playing basketball.” Robinson told CNN.”

Time to take action

Photo: Coledo Wheeler (USA Today)

After going by the house for several days and seeing him do the best he could with the beat-up ball and out of shape rim, she decided to do something about it. She went to Target in Springboro, Ohio, where she lives, and bought a ball, hoop, and backboard.

She left a note for his mother, Coledo Wheeler. that said “Just wanted you and your son to have the best hoop that’ll grow with him and all his friends.” She signed it without a name, just “from one of the FedEx drivers.”

Later she learned through the boy’s mother that Elijah had been playing with that same old hoop for nine years, ever since he was just two years old. It got to the point where he wouldn’t miss a day, even if it meant waking up at 7 a.m. before catching the bus to school.

He could not have realized how much better a new hoop and see-through backboard would be because what he had was the only thing he knew.

How much it meant

Robinson had no idea the impact her generosity would have. She later learned that two family members and two close friends had died within the year, his mother lost her car in an accident, and her boyfriend suffered a serious injury. The gift “changed their lives,” Wheeler, the mother, related.

“I read the note, and the moment I realized who it was from, I just immediately started to cry,” she said.

Elijah also cried, then went out to play

“When Elijah came home and I showed it to him, he got really emotional. He got teary-eyed. But he’s an 11-year-old boy so he really didn’t want to admit he was crying,” she laughed. “He just sat there for 10 minutes staring at the ball until it really touched him that she went out of her way to do something just for him.”

It didn’t take long for Elijah to run outside and test out his new ball and hoop. He told a reporter what was obvious, ”I can’t describe how much I love basketball.”

Coming together

The two shot hoops on the new goal after Robinson’s heartwarming surprise. (Photo: Coledo Wheeler, USA Today)

Weeks after surprising the family with the gift, Robinson finally came around again, and the moment she did, Elijah was there waiting. He ran to her and hugged her,“ according to mom.

Then giving her a thank-you card he made, Elijah, his 9-year-old brother, Zachery, and Robinson played with the ball for nearly an hour until the driver had to go back to work.

“It was almost like we’d always known each other. I really bonded with the boys, they were so excited to play with me and were begging me not to leave by the end of it,” Robinson said. “I’m just really happy they know that there’s someone out there who’s there for them, someone who has their back.”

She had her own basketball story

“As a kid I had a neighbor install a basketball hoop for me across the street because he knew how much I loved it. I would go down there for hours and just be shooting hoops,” she recalled.

“I was bullied for years in school, so basketball was really an oasis. . . I’ve been there.”

Robinson said she plans to play basketball with Elijah whenever she’s delivering in the area.

What they played

How can three people play with a basketball for an hour? Easy. Go back to your earlier days. Remember P-I-G, H-O-R-S-E, and C-A-T-E-R-P-I-L-L-A-R? That’s how.

Robinson concluded by calling the experience “a freaking perfect of an ending to this story.

“We all win.”

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