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(USA Today) -- Hall of Famer and former NBA center David Robinson understands the sacrifice.

The son of Navy veteran Ambrose Robinson Jr., David Robinson graduated from the Naval Academy and spent two years in the Navy Reserve before embarking on his NBA career.

"Serving our country has been a big part of my life," Robinson said. "My grandfather (Ambrose Sr.) was in the Army. My brother (Chuck) was in the Navy. My dad was gone for months at a time. I learned at an early age how important service was. We knew that sacrifice."


Robinson is a significant participant in the NBA's Hoops for Troops campaign and will be with President Obama today for the Veterans Day wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.

Robinson on Tuesday will visit with wounded military members at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

"It takes just a little effort to show your appreciation," Robinson said.

Gregg Popovich, Robinson's former coach on the San Antonio Spurs, is an Air Force Academy graduate and said last week that the country wasn't honoring veterans as it should.

"In a lot of ways it's a joyous day, if we all remember to honor people," Popovich said. "But in some ways it's a sad day, because (soldiers and veterans) don't really get honored the way they should be. Some of it is just pablum.

"When it comes down to the nuts and bolts of what they need, they're really not getting everything. Just like the way it is right now. How many vets might have to do without food stamps because of what's going on with the government right now? That program is huge to a lot of these families. I mean huge. It gets them through. And it may or may not be there - who knows? - because government is not very functional at this point, as we all know. So it's a day to reflect, to honor, but also to not lose sight of the fact that a whole lot more has to be done with what they've done for all of us."


Robinson entered the Navy at 6-8 but grew to 7-0 while in school. That made him too tall for work on ships and submarines.

His commitment was two years instead of the normal five, and he served as a civil engineer officer at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia.

"I worked with some really, really good people," Robinson said. "The military is one of those equal opportunity places. You're judged on how well you do your job."

The Spurs selected Robinson with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1987 draft, knowing he wouldn't be available for two years. He helped the Spurs win two championships and was a 10-time All-Star, 1989-90 rookie of the year, 1991-92 defensive player of the year and 1994-95 MVP.

"At the time, it feels like an inconvenience delaying your NBA career," Robinson said. "But looking back on it, that experience is something I would never trade for anything."

Robinson hasn't strayed from his military roots. He has helped the Navy raise money for facilities, has visited with troops in Afghanistan and Iraq and remains active in other philanthropic endeavors.

"It really takes so little to help and encourage people," Robinson said.

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