Alex Robinson had to get out. He needed to go home.
The TCU guard was finishing up his freshman year at Texas A&M. He had a boot on his right foot after surgery to fix a fracture he played with for much of the season.
And then a night out with friends in May 2015 near College Station turned tragic.
Four friends, all Texas A&M students, including driver Alexis Emmou, were in a car ahead of the one Robinson was driving. They were leaving a party on the night of the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight and headed to the Northgate district near campus.
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Emmou was driving exceedingly fast on a two-lane country road when she lost control and struck a tree.
Robinson and his two passengers at first were confused. Had the girls turned? How did they lose them so fast?
Moments later they realized their friends had left the road and struck a tree. One of the girls, Corinthia Cunningham-Williams, 22, was killed instantly. The others, including Rene Contreras and Tyra Preston, both 20, were clinging to life.
Robinson and one of his passengers rushed to the wreckage while the other called police. Emmou seemed to still be breathing, but her body was too entangled in the smashed Honda Civic.
"We tried to get Alexis out, but half of her body was between the door and dashboard and we didn't want to hurt her any more," Robinson said.
Police and paramedics soon arrived. Robinson was inside the wreckage doing what he could to keep Preston conscious. He thought Emmou was going to make it. Suddenly, she took two breaths before her head slumped over, almost hitting Robinson.
At first, Robinson was ecstatic, thinking his friend was waking up. Instead, it was her last breath.
"That really hurts seeing one of your best friends like that," he said.
The tragedy sent Robinson into a tailspin. He was clinically depressed and confused. He felt he should have done more to help save his friends even though there was nothing he could have done. He needed a change of scenery and he needed to be closer to his family and friends in Fort Worth.
"He couldn't do it down there. He couldn't heal himself," said Darla Robinson, Alex's mother who played basketball at TCU in the early 1980s. "He needed to come home to heal. Everybody heals in different ways. It took me a while to get it."
Robinson transferred from A&M to TCU in January 2016. Besides needing to be closer to family and friends, he wanted to help mentor Alexis' younger brother, Frank, who lives with his mother in Mansfield. He's in the seventh grade now, plays basketball, and headed to Robinson's former school, Mansfield Timberview.
"I really wanted to step into a big brother role," Robinson said. "I call him Junior. I know it's hard for him. I couldn't be at A&M anymore. I just knew, ultimately, I wanted to come back home."
In March 2016, three months after Robinson transferred, Jamie Dixon was named TCU's new coach. Dixon had recruited Robinson when he was still coaching Pittsburgh, but Robinson wasn't keen on the cold weather after a visit.
Robinson was back home, mentoring Frank, but still struggling to move on past that horrific night in 2015.
"He's a perfectionist when it comes to basketball and instead of letting a game go and going on to the next game he'd go over and over it in his head," Darla Robinson said. "And in life, I think he's learned to try not to be too perfect with stuff. Just keep it moving."
Eventually, with the help of a sports psychiatrist, Robinson started letting it go. And he's learned to let things go on the basketball floor, too.
"A young adult going through something like that has a real effect," said TCU assistant coach Corey Barker. "Basketball and life are very similar. If you can do it in basketball you can do it in life. Make the next play better."
Robinson has stepped into the void left by Jaylen Fisher's season-ending injury to help lead the Frogs (21-9, 9-8 in the Big 12) to their best season in 20 years. TCU closes out the regular season at 3 p.m. Saturday against No. 12 Texas Tech (22-8, 10-7) in Lubbock.
"Sometimes you see it on the court," Barker said. "He holds on to things. But he's getting better at not reflecting so much on the negative but reflecting on the positive and letting things go. And he’s done that."
Robinson came up big during his first season with TCU a year ago, helping the Frogs win their first National Invitational Tournament championship.
"Everything he went through at Texas A&M and stuff he's gone through here ... he's growing, he's growing before our eyes," Barker said. "I think he’s handled it well."
The finality of death has hit Robinson before. The childhood friend he looked up to, Duncanville star point guard Deion Jackson-Houston, was killed by a train during Robinson's sophomore season at Timberview. His church pastor in Mansfield passed away from cancer soon after he transferred home. The losses left a mark on him.
"There is a maturity where he understood more about life and death and how it can be taken away from you so easily," Darla Robinson said. "[The wreck] was pretty devastating. It was hard for me to understand how devastating it was."
It has left Robinson with an almost raw understanding of the fragility of life.
"I try to not leave a situation with somebody with a sour mouth about you because you never know. It might be the last time you get to see that person," he said. "I see life completely different now. I let things go because I don’t want my last few moments to be mad and upset about something that I can't control."