This is an image of a growth chart next to the words: David Robinson's Growth Spurt

David Robinson’s Growth Spurt: From Sailor to The Admiral!

David Robinson had a remarkable growth spurt in high school and then grew even more during his first two years at the Naval Academy. Robinson shot up from 5’9” to 6’6” in high school and began playing basketball. After getting some attention for basketball and enrolling at Navy, Robinson grew even further to 7’0”. 

When did David Robinson have his growth spurt? 

David Robison grew up in a Navy family and moved around the country as a young child. After his father retired from the Navy, his family moved to Virginia where they stayed for the rest of his school years.

Robinson was of average height growing up and played many sports but did not play basketball. As a junior in high school, Robinson was of average height: 5’9” tall. He was not playing basketball at that point.

Between his junior and senior years, Robinson grew to be 6’6” tall and was given a spot on the basketball team for his senior year at Osbourn Park High School. 

Robinson did well enough in his senior year to draw some attention. He decided to attend the Naval Academy, following in the career footsteps of his father. 

Was David Robinson Too Tall to Serve in the Navy?

Yes, David Robinson ended up being too tall to serve in the Navy. When he enrolled in the fall of his freshman year at the Naval Academy, he had already grown too tall to be accepted at the school. 

Robinson had added one more inch since his senior year and was now 6’7”. The school made an exception for Robinson and allowed him to enroll with the assumption that he was done growing.

Much to the Naval Academy’s surprise, Robinson was not close to done growing!  He grew to 7’0” by the start of his second year at  Navy and became an absolute force for them on the basketball court. 

Robinson led his college team to the Elite Eight before being drafted 1st overall by the San Antonio Spurs in the 1987 NBA Draft.

Robinson had worked out a deal with the Navy to avoid a long-term enlistment. The Navy agreed because his height made him ill-suited to being a Naval Officer, and because his NBA prospects made him consider leaving the school early before becoming committed to serve an extended tour in the service.

Instead of a longer tour in the Navy, Robinson had to serve two years in the Naval Reserve before beginning his NBA career. 

Was David Robinson really an Admiral? 

No. David Robison was not a real Admiral. Robinson was a Lieutenant (Junior Grade) in the Naval Reserve. The Naval Officer Ranks are listed below.

Warrant Officer (CWO2, CWO3, CWO4, CWO5)
Ensign (ENS, O1)
Lieutenant, Junior Grade (LTJG, O2)
Lieutenant (LT, O3)
Lieutenant Commander (LCDR, O4)
Commander (CDR, O5)
Captain (CAPT, O6)
Rear Admiral Lower Half (RDML,O7)
Rear Admiral Upper Half (RADM, O8)
Vice Admiral (VADM, O9)
Admiral (ADM, O10)
Fleet Admiral (FADM)
Naval Officer Ranks

It is safe to say Robinson was not that close to being a real Admiral. David Robinson got the nickname The Admiral from his incredible success playing basketball for the U.S. Naval Academy. 

After his tremendous growth spurt to 7’0”, Robinson was one of the very best basketball players in the country. Given that the Academy did not allow admissions over 6’6”, it was rare for the school to have great basketball players and Robinson stood out. 

In leading his Naval Academy team to the Elite Eight and becoming the 1st pick in the NBA Draft, David Robinson became known by the nickname The Admiral.

After his two-year stint in the reserves, Robinson went on to have a Hall of Fame NBA career that saw him make the Original 1992 Dream Team, and pair with The Big Fundamental, Tim Duncan to win two NBA titles. 

When Did Dennis Rodman Hit His Growth Spurt?

I have written extensively about Dennis Rodman’s nicknames, his ability on defense, and where he ranks in NBA history. In those articles, one fun thing I discovered was that Rodman and David Robinson were actually paired for a time, disastrously, in San Antonio.

The Worm shot his way out of town quickly before joining the Bulls for their second title three-peat. 

Robinson and Rodman were a terrible match but they had one thing in common: both had huge growth spurts that changed their lives. 

Rodman did not play high school basketball and stood 5’6” as a freshman. He graduated around 5’9” and went to work in an airport where he faced some legal troubles and possible jail time.

After escaping real trouble, Rodman grew 9 inches at age 20 going from 5’11” to 6’8”. Rodman began playing pickup basketball and got noticed at his new height. 

Rodman got an offer to play at junior college where he did well (on the court at least) and he got a scholarship offer to SE Oklahoma St where he became a 3x NAIA All American. 

My favorite stat from Rodman’s college days is that he somehow averaged 26 points per game in college! In the NBA, he barely ever shot the ball and did little on offense but chase down rebounds. 

After declaring for the draft, Rodman was picked in the 2nd round of the 1986 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons and the rest is history.

Summary: David Robinson’s Growth Spurt

David Robinson had an incredible growth spurt in high school that kick started his basketball career. After growing from 5’9” to 6’6”, Robinson got a scholarship to the Naval Academy and agreed to play basketball for them. He grew even further his first two years in college and ended up being one of the best college basketball players in the country at 7’0” tall. 

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