When Brian Robinson Jr. was a kid, his mom Kimberly Little, always had a specific folder on hand whenever she went to his football practices and games.
"No matter what league he played in, they always wanted to see birth certificates," she recalled.
The need for birth certificates fell to the wayside as the years wore on, but the ever-presence of Robinson's mother stuck.
"Any time I had anything with him, I knew straight where to go to get if fixed, and that was mama," Robinson's high school running backs coach Greg Guy said with a smile.
Little is in good company. Every step of Robinson's life, family is found incredibly close by -- rallying around him, vouching for him and making him feel like he can do anything. That powerful support system helped carry Robinson through hard times and made his highs so much sweeter.
Mimi, Robinson' oldest sister, will admit that, as a kid, she wasn't always overjoyed to be constantly sharing spaces with Robinson, who she described as the "epitome of the annoying little brother."
"He's always right. It's always his show," Mimi explained with a laugh. "It's his world we live in, basically. And it's been that way ever since he was little."
Check out the top photos from Brian Robinson Jr.'s 2023 season so far. (Photos by Emilee Fails and Kourtney Carroll/Washington Commanders)
As most older siblings can attest to, though, that annoyance consistently sat close to emotions of love and protection. She always wanted to make sure that her brother was doing good, and of course, that he was safe. And that sibling influence did not just go one way. Being the youngest, Mimi believes, deeply influenced the tough Brian Robinson many know today.
"I feel like it comes from him being the only boy, and he's the youngest," Mimi said. "I feel like he thinks, 'I've got all these sisters I've gotta be tough for them,' and 'I'm the smallest, I gotta be mighty.'"
Looking out for one another -- and often times in a sacrificial, above and beyond sort of way -- was modeled for the whole Robinson troop by their mom. Little worked in a hospital in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, putting in early mornings and late nights to help provide for her family.
Though she spent a lot of time doing what needed to be done to help her children financially, she never lost sight of the importance of being there physically when they needed it most. She strived to make every one of Robinson's football practices, games and camps when he was growing up.
The effort did not go unnoticed. In fifth grade, for example, Robinson mentioned in a school project that the thing he loved most about his parents was that his mom was always taking him to his games and practices. In fact, seeing his mom came to be part of an unofficial pregame ritual.
"I've noticed he'll look around in the stands and once he finds me it was like, 'She's here. We good," she said.
If Little wasn't able to get off work, she always made sure to find another family member or other loved one to support her son -- in and out of town. These gestures and the values instilled in him in by his family and community came to form Robinson's primary motivation as he rose the football ranks: loved ones are there no matter what, make them proud and fight for them.
"They mean more to me than anything … That's who I do it for at the end of the day," Robinson said. "I do it for my mom, my sisters, my family, my friends, everybody who supported me and been there for me and watched me struggle and also watched me win."
The support from his circle, which was such a constant and key throughout his early life, only grew once he decided to go to the University of Alabama, whose campus is just a couple miles from his hometown.
"It was convenient," Little recalled. "Just being there when he needed me. If something happens, I'm right there, 10 or 15 minutes away."
And while they all had become used to being in such close proximity to each other, there was hope from the family that Robinson would leave the state once college finished to continue his football career. Coach Ron Rivera made that dream come true with a call on April 29, 2022, as Robinson was selected in the third round of the draft. The ensuing out-of-state move for the youngest Robinson family member was a first, and that came with normal stresses for his family.
"It was hard him being that far away," Mimi said with a laugh. "Me, I'm just that protector, so I'm like, 'He's all the way out there. Is somebody cooking for him? Is he eating right? Is he getting up on time?'"
That unfamiliar distance then exacerbated the trauma of what Mimi describes as "one of the worst days of her life" that August. Having Robinson on the east coast when he was shot during an armed robbery in D.C. was incredibly difficult for the family. Still, they did what they always do and made sure he knew they were supporting him and holding him close no matter what.
"They were with me through yet another stressful process, and we made it out the backend stronger once again," Robinson said.
Their presence and encouragement helped propel Washington's No. 8 in his comeback. His loved ones have shown him they will be by his side no matter the location or situation, and he is serious about always returning that love. Those ideals have made the Robinson family who they are.
"You've got to take care of your own. You've got to," Mimi said. "If you know in the back of your mind that that you have that support from your family, I feel like it makes you go harder, to know that you have all these people supporting you, we've got your back right or wrong."