He runs with young hoopsters up and down the court. Says a lot about a physically fit, 63-year-old man officiating basketball games, who is recognized as one of the most accomplished and respected refs in the state.
Matter of fact, Djuan Robinson, who is in his 26th year of refereeing hardcourt action ranging from elementary age kids to high school hoops, was honored for a quarter of a century in 2022 by the Missouri State High School Sports and Activities Association (MSHSAA).
During the off season for high school balling ends, which runs November through March, he keeps his conditioning fine tuned with a workout regiment that includes some running, walking five miles and weight training.
“You want to look the part when you’re on the court,” he says. His love of officiating stems from him being an avid basketball player, having kicked it up with the age 40 and up league not too long ago. “There’s nothing like scoring a basket, the joy of putting the ball in the hole,” he says. That’s why he’s in his zone on the court as a referee.
“The comradery. The togetherness. St. Louis is a basketball city. ‘What high school did you go to and what did you play is the question always asked,’ ” Djuan says, who has also officiated AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) games. “I like working with young people, the relationships with parents and coaches. There’s nothing like it.”
Basketball, however, has deeper significance for Djuan. It was a major part of his physical recovery when a prostate cancer diagnosis did a slam dunk in his life. On August 11, 2011, Djuan had surgery to remove his “cancerous but contained” prostate.
“I did my workout before my surgery,” he says. “I didn’t feel ill or nothing. The cancer was there and I didn’t know it. I felt anxiety before I knew but my urologist told me it was not a death sentence.”
He could have stopped officiating, lay back and heal. But he didn’t. He healed alright, walking nine miles a day following his surgery. Three months later, he suited up in his pin strips and hit the court.
“I was back on the court for a full season,” he says.
Djuan’s wife, Tracy, was his loving caregiver during his prostate cancer journey. Caregiving roles turned on December 1, 2019 when his wife of 36 years had emergency brain abscess surgery. “She was my caregiver, then I was hers.”
He says the cancer road brought him closer to God, and that he was never afraid. His faith defines him. As a member of Fresh Start Bible Church under the leadership the Pastor Douglas Petty, he is one of five ministers who assist the pastor in the church. Each share “Minister’s Moments” where they talk about how the Word of God his impacted their lives.
“My view on ministry is changing your mindset,” he says. “You must be Word filled. You got to spend more time in the spirit then in the carnal. That brings a peace and allows you to know you’re here to serve.”
“Like Mellve, he made a decision to serve others, and it’s not monetary,” he says. “It brings peace when I think of TEN. I like to be around other men who have been through challenges. The act of encouraging others is what drives me.”