Wan’Dale Robinson revels in a newfound relationship with his father

The words were so painful to speak for Dale Robinson and so painful to hear for Wan’Dale Robinson, the 6-year-old on the other side of the prison’s glass partition.

“I had to tell Wan’Dale I’d be gone for 10 years,” Dale Robinson began.

“He understood that his father couldn’t take him to practice or Chuck E. Cheese anymore.”

Wan’Dale Robinson is now a Giants rookie, rushing out into the daylight at a time when his father is rebuilding his life and out of the darkness of incarceration toward the father-son relationship they both sorely missed.

“We were always together, he always took me to my football practices, took me to the mall, took me to Chuck E. Cheese, just really took me to where I wanted to go that day, whatever it was,” Wan’Dale told the Post. “Then I see him and then he just tells me these things can’t happen, that he can’t do these things anymore. … I remember just crying … not really understanding why it had to happen.”

His father had been a backup quarterback in western Kentucky until he refused to take a urine test after smoking weed and dropped out of school in his sophomore year when Wan’Dale was six months old. Dale Robinson ended up in correctional facilities, first in Lexington, Kentucky, 32 miles from his home in Frankfurt, then in Morgantown, W.Va. for four years for distributing cocaine, and finally in two correctional facilities in New Jersey: Fort Dix and Fairton.

Wan'Dale Robinson and Dale Robinson at the Fairton, NJ prison
Wan’Dale Robinson and Dale Robinson at the Fairton, NJ prison
Courtesy of Dale Robinson

Wan’Dale never saw his father in Morgantown. It would be about five years before he next saw him in Fairton.

“It was the best feeling in the world,” said Dale Robinson. “I have to hug him, love him. But when it was time for me to go and the visit was over, his eyes welled up in tears – I really wanted to go with him and I know he wanted me to go with him but I couldn’t.”

“He looked really different, a lot more muscle and dreads,” Wan’Dale said. “I was just happy to see him. It just felt like old times.”

Wan’Dale’s mother, Victoria Davis, made sure that father and son spoke to each other at least weekly.

“I used my minutes very wisely,” said Dale. And urged his son to make good decisions.

“I explain to him what I did wrong so he doesn’t have to,” Dale said. “It’s not just about him, some people around you can also make bad decisions that mess you up.”

Dale Robinson was 39 years old when he was released on July 15, 2015.

“His mom picked me up, so I got to see him for maybe an hour, then I had to go to the halfway house,” Dale said. “Probably one of the best days of my life. You say you only remember two days – the day you leave and get locked up, and the day you get out. That day… that’s priceless. But I never want to experience it again.”

Wan'Dale Robinson takes the field at the Giants' rookie minicamp.
Wan’Dale Robinson takes the field at the Giants’ rookie minicamp.
Bill Kostroun/New York Post
Wan'Dale Robinson addresses the media at Giants rookie minicamp.
Wan’Dale Robinson addresses the media at Giants rookie minicamp.
Bill Kostroun/New York Post

Neither does Wan’Dale.

“I came out of football practice, came home and then everyone was waiting for my dad. He got out of the car and I just remember we just hugged and cried,” Wan’Dale said. “I knew things were going to be different with the way he lived his life, and I knew I really didn’t have to worry about him coming back into this life.”

They’re closer than ever, the anger a confused Wan’Dale harbored toward his father gone.

“Whenever I really understood what had happened, I was upset,” Wan’Dale said.

It wasn’t long before the son forgave his father.

“At the end of the day, we all make mistakes,” Wan’Dale said. “It wasn’t anything where I just hated him or anything.”

Dale founded a gym called GURU Fitness in Frankfurt. A second will open in Lexington next month. He established the Wanda Joyce Robinson Foundation, named after his mother, to support children with incarcerated parents. He’s certain New York will fall in love with his son, an electric, versatile 5-foot-8, 178-pound Jitterbug.

“People always doubted him because of his size,” Dale said. “It’s been like this since he started playing football. But then they come and find out he’s the smallest but he has the biggest punch.”

Wan'Dale Robinson and his father Dale.
Wan’Dale Robinson and his father Dale.
Courtesy of Dale Robinson
Wan'Dale Robinson and his father Dale.
Wan’Dale Robinson and his father Dale.
Courtesy of Dale Robinson

He is credited with shaping Wan’Dale’s mentality.

“He’s the best player on the field no matter who’s on that field,” said Dale. “That I’ve been embedded in him since he was 5 years old.”

Too many lost years later, Wan’Dale can’t wait for the day when his father will stand in the stands and watch him make his dream come true.

“It’s getting crazy … he put me to bed, I’ll sleep and watch NFL Network. … Just to see how it all plays out and now I’m playing in the NFL and he’s going to be in the stands watching it, it’s just going to be really surreal.

Better late than never. Wan’Dale Robinson revels in a newfound relationship with his father


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