Text written by Albert Kilchesty
J.C. Jackie Brand
Home Grown - Each generation produces a multi-sports star whose deeds force us to re-examine our definition of greatness. Jim Thorpe was one such athlete, as was Bo Jackson. At mid-century, Jackie Robinson was widely considered the most gifted athlete in America; many contend that he was not only the best, but also the most important athlete of the twentieth century. The two paintings in this series celebrate Robinson’s achievements as a college sports star at Pasadena Junior College (PJC) and UCLA. Robinson (1919‒1972) was born in Georgia but moved with his family to Pasadena while still in diapers. Encouraged by his older brothers Frank and Mack (who won a silver medal at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, finishing second to Jesse Owens in the 200 meter event), Jackie immersed himself in sports. Having earned varsity letters in four sports—track, basketball, football and baseball—while attending John Muir High School, he enrolled at PJC (now PCC) where he excelled at the same four sports. In 1938, he was named MVP of the junior college baseball circuit in Southern California, a considerable feat for a black youth playing with and against predominantly white athletes. He enrolled at UCLA after the death of his beloved brother Frank, and once again demonstrated his athletic prowess, becoming the first athlete in school history to receive varsity letters in four sports. He was an outstanding running back for the Bruins football team, won the NCAA Track & Field Championship in the long jump, and was a dynamic member of the school’s basketball squad. Robinson would later claim that baseball was his “worst sport” at UCLA, a curious admission from one who would later re-write baseball history.
U.C.L.A 4 in 1 Brand