Family and friends mourn the loss of 'K-Rob'

People in Barrington, East Providence and beyond are stunned by the passing of Kevin Robinson ·

He was a BMX legend, an X-Games gold medalist and a world record holder, but people in Barrington and East Providence are also remembering Kevin Robinson as a wonderful father and husband, a great neighbor, and a person who would go out of his way to help others.

K-Rob, as he was best known, passed away on Saturday morning, Dec. 9, from a stroke. He was 45 years old. He leaves his wife Robin and their three children.

K-Rob grew up in East Providence, and always considered himself a Townie. As a young man, he got a job working at Benny's assembling bicycles. It was a good fit for Kevin — he could put together three bicycles in the same time the other employees could assemble one. He gravitated to BMX bikes and over time built a legendary career. He became a professional BMX bike rider, and grew his fame with record-breaking vertical bicycle jumps. 

He won X-Games medals, worked as an analyst for ESPN, and most recently earned a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records with an epic no-handed back-flip on his bicycle in Kennedy Plaza in Providence.

But BMX was just the beginning for Kevin Robinson. 

The East Providence native was the president of the K-Rob Foundation, and spent many days working as a motivational speaker who visited schools all across the region and shared positive messages with children. He battled against the spread of bullying, spoke about good health and preached about the powers of exercise. (At the same time, Kevin wowed students and teachers alike with fantastic tricks, often jumping his bicycle over people.)

The message from K-Rob was not a rehearsed line or two. It was a doctrine that he lived. 

Many who knew Kevin were more impressed by his relentless optimism and brilliant smile than by his bicycling exploits. He won people over quickly and easily.

"While Kevin was a truly talented athlete, he was a spectacular person," wrote one friend in a Facebook post. "Kevin was the person that could make absolutely anyone smile and he had an absolutely insatiable drive to give back to the community…"

The K-Rob Foundation was a mainstay in East Providence. He raised money for underprivileged children, helped support the sports program at Riverside Middle School, and worked hard for other causes.

A while back, Kevin started a new venture with his friend and former elite-level gymnast, Alyssa Mealey Stookey, called K-Rob and Alyssa's Journey 4 Wellness. It was a Facebook page people could join and follow daily workout regiments and nutritional challenges. Kevin and Alyssa went live each night (except for Fridays) to share messages with those following the group. Kevin said he enjoyed being able to help others live healthier lives.

He also held informal workouts for folks across Barrington. They would meet at local fields and push themselves through a series of physical challenges. Kevin worked out side-by-side with them.

Family was paramount to Kevin, and those who came to know him would often see him at his children's sporting events. Kevin spoke proudly of his daughter Shaye, a standout gymnast, after she finished in second place in a level eight state competition. He emphasized how hard she worked each day in the gym.

This fall he helped coach the Barrington Pop Warner football team his son Kevin played on. He often led the early-practice calisthenics, striking a balance between pushing the youngsters to achieve more, while making sure that encouragement was the focus. He also shared pep talks and motivational speeches before and after games. During breaks at football practice, K-Rob would throw passes to Riley, his youngest child, marveling at how good he was at catching the ball. 

K-Rob would lend his time to all who asked for it — whether it was mentoring a young student who was trying to get a skate park built in town, or raising money for someone in need. 

K-Rob was determined to increase the enrollment for the Barrington Pop Warner football teams. Last week, Kevin attended a Barrington Pop Warner board of directors meeting and shared news about a program he was working on. It is called the Barrington Sports Safety Seminar, and it's being planned for Jan. 25. Kevin invited a panel of experts in sports medicine to the event.

The lives Kevin touched have spent the past few days sharing hundreds, if not thousands, of messages on Facebook. They recalled his work, his love, his enthusiasm and his desire to help:

"A life cut too short. A life well lived. Loving husband, father, son and friend. What better accomplishment in life can be said that he made people's lives better by knowing them? Rest in peace, Kevin..."

"You could not find a more inspiring and positively infectious human, and I've never met anyone that so absolutely walked his talk. Out of this world role model as a husband, father, son, friend, athlete, and plain old hard-working man…"


There will be a wake for Kevin on Wednesday, Dec. 13, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Rebello Funeral Home, at 901 Broadway, in East Providence.

The funeral will be on Thursday, at 10 a.m. at St. Martha's Church in East Providence.


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