Jackie Robinson was born on a plantation near Cairo, Georgia, on January 31, 1919. When he was 6 months old, his father left. His mother moved the family to California. With the help of a niece, his mother bought a house in a white neighborhood in Pasadena. Manfred Weidhorn noted in his biography, Jackie Robinson, "Jackie was proud of his mother, who would not allow the white neighbors to drive her away or frighten her or mistreat her kids. From her he learned to stand up for his rights. He learned to respect himself, demand respect from others, and never back down."
Although Robinson suffered racial torment throughout his life, he learned being good at sports brought friendships with white kids. He rose to "fame" in high school and college starring in football, basketball, baseball and track. Robinson received an athletic scholarship from UCLA and was the first to letter in four sports. He broke his brother, Olympic champion, Mack Robinson's running broad jump record.
He knew sports and a degree didn't guarantee a black man a future, so he dropped out of college and enlisted into the Army. He did fine until, after he was promoted to head a tank platoon, he got court-martialed for not sitting at the back of a bus. Eventually he was acquitted and honorably discharged. Robinson was about to change racial boundaries forever.