By: Chelsea Davis-Bibb, M.Ed.
Houston- Coaches can have the greatest impact on the lives of their athletes. This impact not only affects them on their competing field, but in their overall life as well. Coaches create a bond with their athletes that can’t be broken, and for many, this bond ultimately changes their life. Coach Robert Lee Shaw Sr. was a phenomenal coach at different schools, but spent the remainder of his time, coaching athletes at Sterling High School.
In 1991, the athletic department at Sterling High School started a tournament, and Shaw assisted in order to get the tournament off to a great start. Sadly, on October 24th, 1992, Coach Shaw passed away due to a massive heart attack. The athletic department then decided to name the tournament after him in his honor. Over the years, a lot of the people that knew Coach Shaw have retired, and due to that, it has been the family’s responsibility to keep the legacy going, and this year, will be the 25th year of the Robert Lee Shaw Sr. Classic JV Boys Basketball tournament.
In 2013, the tournament did have a name change, and Coach Shaw’s family decided to start a foundation in memory of their father. The foundation is called The 8Before24 Robert Lee Shaw Sr. Foundation. Coach Shaw passed away eight days before his birthday, thus the inspiration behind the name of the foundation. One activity that they do under the umbrella of the foundation is the tournament. The tournament name was changed to 8 Before 24 Robert Lee Shaw Sr. JV Boys Basketball Tournament. The mission of the foundation states, “We are dedicated to enhancing the total development of young men in our communities through athletics. Our goal is to utilize the platform of sports to promote academic excellence, health, discipline, leadership, and positive change.”
Robin Shaw Johnson, daughter of Coach Shaw, describer her dad as a really great father and as someone who had a joking personality, who loved to listen to music, and who simply was just a lot of fun. “I was eleven years old when he passed away and I didn’t realize the impacts that he had outside our home until he passed away.”
Robin knew growing up that her dad was a coach and spent a lot of time at games on the weekend, but it wasn’t until his funeral that really showed how many lives Coach Shaw touched over the years of his life. When her dad passed away, her mom decided to have the wake at the school because she knew a lot of the students wouldn’t have the transportation to get to another location. “When we got there, I really can’t put into words…there was standing room only…it was just amazing.” She further stated, “He was the type of coach that was like a father figure. He put those kids first, and he was the only father that a lot of those kids knew… even to this day, if we run into someone that knew him, they speak so highly of him.” According to his daughter, he was one of those people who made it out of the hood, but came back to help others become successful as well. Growing up in 5th Ward, he knew what it was to struggle, and to try your hardest to get out and be someone. He made it out, but his selfless ways only brought him back to help other people reach their fullest potential.
Coach Shaw was a person who students could depend on, and really trust. Even though he is missed by many, his kids are making sure that they are doing everything they can to continue his legacy. When someone dies, we often think that it’s over, and that’s just the end. However, it’s what the living does, which keeps this person alive years after they have left this Earth. So many lives were impacted by the life of this one person, and even though he is gone, he still continues to touch the lives of many everyday. The tournament will be held November 25th and November 26th at The Forge For Families. The address is 3435 Dixie Drive, Houston, Texas 77021.