On the basketball court at Oregon State University, Coach Craig Robinson was known as the two-time Ivy League Player of the Year from Princeton and former Brown University coach who had been working diligently for two years to transform a once-storied program.
But off the court -- and pretty much everywhere else in the world -- Robinson is known by a different title: big brother of first lady Michelle Obama. Before she took up residence in arguably the most famous house in America, Robinson recounted when she was just his little sister who was starting to date some guy named Barack.
"When you meet your sister's boyfriend, he's not the president of the United States, you know what I mean?" Robinson said. "He's just some guy that you're meeting who likes your sister. And in my sister's case, I was glad to meet him, because most guys -- they didn't make it that far. They got cut before the games even started."
After a lifetime of being the older sibling in the spotlight, Robinson said he was glad to step back and watch his kid sister take center stage on the world stage.
"I think I'm having more fun being her big brother than she had being my little sister. You know, growing up, it was basketball and Craig. But now, you know, being Michelle Obama's brother is pretty cool."
A little more than a year since watching his family become the first family, Robinson still caught himself in moments that he said are awesome and humbling.
"When I'm talking to her on the phone, I never think, 'Hmm, she could be sitting in the green room talking to me.' But then you go to her house. And then you realize you're sitting in the White House. And it's like, 'Oh my goodness, can you believe this?'"
For Robinson, it's all still a bit surreal. He remembered the time when Michelle asked him to test Obama on the basketball court. It was their father's adage on sportsmanship that led Michelle to ask the favor of her big brother.
"She called me up and said, 'Hey, listen. Barack fashions himself a basketball player, and I want you to take him to go play with you and see what kind of guy he really is, because she grew up hearing my dad and me talk about how you can tell people's personality on the court in sports in -- in stressful situations."
According to Robinson, Obama stood out immediately, both on and off the court, showing a friendly demeanor, good sense of humor and some athletic prowess.
"He could play. You know, 80 -- 85 percent of the people out there are pickup basketball players. He could fit in with all of 'em. … The thing that I liked the most that he did -- was that he did not just pass me the ball, because he was dating my sister. That was impressive."
It's well known that basketball played a big role in fostering Robinson's close relationship with Obama. Even now, he said the president kept track of Oregon State's schedule and will call him after big wins.
But when asked whether their phone conversations turned to politics, Robinson said the two don't talk policy. And though he isn't one to offer political counsel, it didn't mean others weren't soliciting their own advice free of charge. Robinson said people are always sending him messages, gifts, packages -- even health care proposals -- for the president.