Martell Robinson and his older brother’s favorite pastime was playing a basketball video game, NBA 2K, together.
A few nights before Martell died, Keyonn Robinson said his brother, a University of Georgia student, won off a buzzer-beater and celebrated by screaming and shouting all night. Keyonn, the oldest son in the Robinson family, said he was happy his younger brother could celebrate a victory one last time.
Martell, 18, of Columbus, died in a single car crash at the intersection of Pulaski Street and West Broad Street on Feb. 28, according to an Athens-Clarke County Police Department press release.
“The vehicle failed to stop at the intersection and impacted a rock retaining wall at the southern end of the intersection,” according to the release. The crash remains under investigation.
When they weren’t playing NBA 2K, Martell and Keyonn were on the basketball court. Martell always hoped to “crush” his two older brothers at the game, Keyonn said.
“He had a lifelong dream of beating me at a game of basketball, it was our favorite thing to do together,” Keyonn said. “I’m glad he was able to finally beat me before he passed.”
Keyonn said his brother had a slew of college choices after finishing with a 4.6 GPA in high school. Keyonn, a Georgia fan himself, said he was happy his younger brother chose UGA.
The transition from high school to college wasn’t easy for Martell, but Keyonn said he pushed through the stress of school and always kept his “contagious smile bright.”
Although he was only in his second semester at UGA, friends of Martell said he had a lasting impact on campus. Michael Bland, Martell’s friend, said they sweated off school stress on the basketball court.
Bland said he’ll miss their “hoop sessions” at Ramsey Student Center.
“I would describe Martell as a guy who loves to have fun and enjoy life. He always brought energy wherever he went and people enjoyed being around him,” Bland, a freshman marketing major, said.
Martell met Zack Jones on a mission trip to Florida with their church about five years ago, and they remained close friends. Jones said he couldn’t recall a time when Martell wasn’t smiling or encouraging his friends — in Columbus, Martell was known “as a great encourager,” Jones said.
Jones said he will miss laughing with Martell.
“I remember the first day that I found out that he laughed like that, we were in gym class, and I heard him make the sound, and immediately I just started [laughing],” Jones said. “We both started doing it at the same time, and everyone in the gym was laughing. That’s one of my funniest memories with him that I’ll never forget.”
Keyonn said his brother entered college with plans to enter the medical field but later intended to apply to law school. Martell told his family he wanted to help others fight wrongful criminal accusations and improve America’s justice system.
Growing up in a “rowdy” household with his brothers, Martell developed a “strong, competitive” nature but his primary focus was to be “the best friend” to everyone he knew, Keyonn said.
Keyonn remembered their family beach trip — their last family trip together — to Panama City, Florida, last year. His brother’s energy was at a high, and the trip will always be a “great last memory,” Keyonn said.
When describing his brother’s character, Keyonn said Martell strove for greatness, was intelligent, charismatic and at times, “a ladies’ man.” Keyonn said his brother adored their mother, and he loved basketball almost as much as hip-hop — Martell dove into the music world and went by the name “lil Mar” on SoundCloud.
Martell wanted to make the world a better place through his character and working to reform the criminal justice system. Keyonn said he and his family will remember his brother for how he loved and cared for his family and friends.
“His family will forever love him and hold him close to our hearts, and we will all make him proud and make him smile down on us from heaven,” Keyonn said.