Basketball means everything to Tawana McDonald Robinson, and she’s seen it affect every aspect of her life.
Almost two decades after playing on the Georgia women’s basketball team, McDonald Robinson will be honored as an SEC Women’s Legend during the Bulldogs' first game of the SEC tournament on March 5 against Alabama.
Although she's being rewarded for her accomplishments at Georgia, her focus lately has been toward her four children who share the same love for the sport that gave her everything.
“All of them are playing [basketball],” McDonald Robinson said. “So they understand when I’m like, ‘No, you've got to keep working, you've got to keep pushing.’”
McDonald Robinson played for Georgia from 1998-2002 before becoming a first-round pick in the 2002 WNBA Draft. During her time in Athens, she was known as one of the premier post players in the nation.
Even after a first-year injury, McDonald Robinson racked up 1,225 points and pulled down 885 rebounds throughout her collegiate career. She also blocked 297 shots, a total that is still the most in Bulldog history. McDonald Robinson led Georgia to the 1999 Final Four and the 2001 SEC tournament championship.
McDonald Robinson will always be an example for Georgia players to look up to. As an SEC Women’s Legend, she shows values of leadership and determination while representing the University of Georgia. She uses these values in her job as a life coach as well as when setting an example for her children.
“She is one of those people that only speaks when necessary,” former teammate Camille Murphy said. “She leads by example.”
Leadership is one trait that still defines McDonald Robinson to this day. She attributes her college and professional basketball days to building her character and helping her out in the real world. Through her college days, McDonald Robinson had to learn how to balance life and basketball. She knows that players today struggle with the same things, but understands it is something you have to go through to grow.
“Prioritizing, putting school first and then going onto the court and giving my best effort,” McDonald Robinson said. “To be an athlete you have to be a student first. Putting the same effort into my schoolwork and networking was important because life goes on after basketball.”
Career accolades are not the only reason McDonald Robinson is an SEC Women’s legend. As a native of Flint, Michigan, McDonald Robinson had to travel roughly 780 miles to play collegiate basketball in Athens. She looks back to her childhood which played a large part in building her character and preparing her to leave home.
“Growing up, I was the only girl in our neighborhood, and the boys would never let me play [basketball],” McDonald Robinson said. “It was things like that that helped me build character and become a person that could leave home at 18 [and] go so many miles away from Michigan and still be successful.”
McDonald Robinson’s leadership was important to her teammates at Georgia as well. McDonald Robinson was the first person Murphy met when she came to Athens in 1998.
“We created a bond that has never been broken,” Murphy said.
Murphy also went to the WNBA after her time at Georgia. After four years of professional play, Murphy left the league and pursued a coaching career. She coached at many different small colleges and is now the head coach at her high school alma mater in Syracuse, New York. Through her years, Murphy has encountered many different leaders, but not many have been like McDonald Robinson.
The SEC Women’s Legends will be represented at halftime of the first conference tournament game for each of their respective teams. The tournament will be held in Greenville, South Carolina, from March 4 to March 8.