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The NWBA mourns loss of Robert "Bob" Earl Trotter

By NWBA, 11/23/19, 8:00AM CST


Trotter's efforts paved the way for the NWBA Junior Division

A great friend of the NWBA, Robert "Bob" Earl Trotter, passed away on November 21, 2019 from an apparent heart attack. Simply put, Bob Trotter, was the father of youth wheelchair basketball in Chicago and the State of Illinois. Trotter's contributions to wheelchair basketball truly exemplify the motto of "leave the sport better than you found it".

Trotter graduated from the University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign, where he majored in Therapeutic Recreation (TR). Trotter starred for the University of Illinois Gizz Kids at forward all four years in attendance, receiving his varsity letter in 1978. He was inducted into the NWBA Intercollegiate Division Hall of Fame in 2003. His post-collegiate playing career spanned more than 15 years with the Chicago Pacemakers.

After cutting his professional teeth in the TR Department at Oak Forest Hospital of Cook County for a few years, Trotter moved into a similar position at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC). When accepting the position at RIC, Trotter took on the challenge of developing its fledgling wheelchair sports program. Over his near decade long tenure, Trotter developed the city’s first youth wheelchair basketball team, the RIC Dawgs, and the first tournaments for youth in the mid-1980s. Helping to grow the foundation of our sport Trotter would invite any community in the Midwest that had or was developing a team to participate in these tournaments for youth. Trotter was also instrumental in the development of the Inaugural Junior National Wheelchair Basketball Tournament (Munster, IN) in 1993, serving on its Local Organizing Committee.

Trotter grew up in public housing on the South Side of Chicago. Having contracted polio at a very young age, living with a physical disability, and having had the opportunity to play college ball, he saw the value in recreation and competitive sport as a catalyst for achievement. Trotter possessed a gregarious persona and a forever giving spirit. He wisely used personal charm, wit and humor to overcome any obstacle when it came to ensuring that inner-city kids and young adults would have the opportunity to play wheelchair basketball. From 1982-2002, everyone in Chicago who played or coached this great sport was touched in some positive way by the presence of Trotter in his or her life.Trotter's untimely loss is sorrowful for all who knew and loved him.

The NWBA is grateful for Trotter's tireless efforts impacting youth with disabilities and laying the foundation for what would become our Junior Division. Because of these efforts many alumni of his program would go on to achieve a college degree and a rewarding career, on and off the court.