But after the accident, which affected his painting arm, his family and teachers feared the trauma would derail his art.
"He believed what had happened was his fault – that's how he thinks," said his mother. "He had nightmares and signs of post-traumatic stress. … We worried he would go into a deep depression and not get over it."
The League Center's art program made sure that Robert didn't lose his place while he was recovering and brought supplies and instruction to the house so he could continue to draw.
Home visits are a vital service provided by their service coordinators with one-on-one check-ins with parents to help them manage behaviors and progress. For Latchman, that meant helping him dive head first into his art, and giving him the tools, support and instruction to do so.
"No matter what happened, they were supporting," said Mary Latchman. "No matter what happened, even if he was in bed, he had an easel and was drawing portraits. It was keeping him sane."
Eventually, he was able to maneuver in a wheelchair and a walker and returned to LAND where he is again getting accolades for his work.
In June, he sold three more paintings as one of a select group of artists at Newel, a premier art and antiques gallery in New York City. As with the sale to J Crew, he can keep half of the earnings; the other half supports the art program.
Robert's teachers say he is a star pupil.
"Robert is a very ambitious artist," said LAND curator and co-founder Matthew Murphy. "He is one of the most optimistic guys I have ever met. He has an unshakeable optimism about him. Every day, he comes in with an incredible enthusiasm about making art."
Mary Latchman said she is grateful for the support the program has provided and has faith in her son, because he has such confidence in himself.
He now tells his mother when she worries about him: "Ma, don't worry – everything will be fine. You are going to be very surprised. I am going to become of the greatest artists. You will live to see this."
"Every time you see him he has a piece of paper in his hand," Mary Latchman said. "It has really transformed his life, and the lives of many others."