Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Robin Fambrough on Friday at the studio in Baton Rouge.

Editor's note: This is the 11th and final entry in a series of stories on the 2020 inductees to the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. Induction ceremonies are June 26 in Natchitoches.

Robin Fambrough has had access to athletes since she was 6 years old.

Fambrough’s father, Harold Vincent, was a commercial meat salesman that sold goods to restaurants and entertainment-sporting venues around the greater Louisville, Kentucky, area.

Vincent occasionally had to visit the venues during weekend events if there was an emergency. When those moments occurred, Vincent would bring his young daughter with him.

“When you are a young child, and your dad hasn’t seen you that week and maybe mom needs a break, your dad turns to you and says ‘come with me,’ ” Fambrough remembered.

From watching a Louisville player shoot free throws at the Jefferson County Armory (the Cardinals’ former part-time home gym), to standing near the concession stand for games at Freedom Hall to getting a chance to feed a carrot to a horse at Churchill Downs, Fambrough got behind-the-scene access to athletes on a variety of levels.

“To be standing there, and 20 to 30 feet away there is a Louisville player shooting free throws — that was one of the coolest things ever to me,” Fambrough said.

Fambrough would eventually leave her native Kentucky, even though her distinctive bluegrass accent did not, and through a combination of work ethic, tireless dedication, immense talent and even more humility, she became one of the most respected and decorated sports journalists in Louisiana history.

After a year’s delay because of the pandemic, she will be inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame as a 2020 recipient of the Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism. The Induction Celebration is Saturday night in Natchitoches.

“Through my entire high school career, and into college and even beyond, it was always about the bigger picture for her,” former LSU All-American and Capitol High star Seimone Augustus said.

“Robin saw my situation at LSU, but saw it for more than that. She saw the impact on women’s basketball and the culture here at LSU. When you read any of her stories you can feel that passion.”

Born in Louisville in 1957, Fambrough grew up a self-described “gym rat” as she spent that precious time with her father on business trips, but also at the local high school (Shawnee High) where her parents were part of the booster club.

That meant even more games to watch in person for Fambrough, who later attended Jesse Stuart High School and joined her high school newspaper staff.

Fambrough, though, didn’t believe she was all that great back then — and still doesn’t.

“I don’t think I ever was a great writer,” she said. “I still don’t always think that. I just worked very hard, but always had a love of sports.”

Fambrough went on to Western Kentucky University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and psychology and a minor in folklore, while working for the school’s newspaper and yearbook and in the sports information office.

Her first job out of college was as a general assistant in the Sports Information Department at Nicholls State in Thibodaux, where she would spend two years sharpening her skills, including covering the emergence of female sports.

From there she quickly made the transition from sports information to newspapers without having to leave Thibodaux as she joined the staff of The Daily Comet, where she worked from 1981-84.

In those early years, Fambrough felt “that she was growing into” becoming a sports reporter.

Fambrough, and her husband, Kevin, relocated back to her native Kentucky and from there it was on to Hollywood, Florida, where she did several tasks at the Sun-Tattler.

She also worked part time in the camera store at a local mall while also giving birth to her daughter Megan Fambrough Kurtz.

The family moved back to Louisiana and Fambrough spent more than two years working as a freelancer at The Town Talk in Alexandria and then The Advocate. In November 1990, The Advocate hired Fambrough full time as a general assignment reporter-desk clerk.

A year later she would become the prep writer, a post she’s held for nearly three decades.

“Almost right away, Robin took control of what we did and what we needed to do with our high school coverage,” said retired Advocate sports editor Butch Muir. “There never was a time that she wasn’t on top of what we were doing. That was a huge asset.

“She genuinely cared about what she was covering. If Robin said that we need to do this, then I knew we needed to be there.”

“My thing has always been there is so much going on, let’s try to cover as much as possible,” Fambrough said. “I just always thought let’s try to do this and do that. Give as much coverage as possible.”

It didn’t take long for Fambrough to work herself into the local high school sports scene. Her secret? She was never flashy, was always sincere and had a natural ability to make both coaches and players feel comfortable talking about everything from a last-second buzzer beater to a player suspension.

“She never was intimated by being in the locker room or on the field,” said former Southern Lab and LSU football star and current ESPN football analyst Marcus Spears. “She always reported what was said. She always respected the craft of athletes. If Robin didn’t write about it, then it probably wasn’t important.”

Fambrough also cultivated a reputation of having a personal touch that helped her tell the stories — the most memorable and difficult ones imaginable.

“It’s just her demeanor, calmness and approach,” legendary Glen Oaks basketball coach Harvey Adger said. “She has a way to make you feel so warm the way she approaches her questions. She always has a calming effect and you're not going to find anyone that works harder than her.”

In the past three decades, Fambrough has become one of the most well-regarded sports journalists in the state.

She has been honored as the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s Prep Writer of the Year a record six times, inducted into the Louisiana High School Sports Hall of Fame and was the LSWA’s first female president.

Those accolades have referred to Fambrough as a trailblazer — a label she’s not comfortable with.

“I just feel like I am a writer,” she said. “I like to tell stories. That is one of the labels other people want to give me. I guess I am OK with it.”

Now, Fambrough is preparing to receive yet another honor as an inductee into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.

“It is very humbling that I would be in this position,” she said. “I love the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, but when I think of hall of famers I think of athletes.

"I’m not Red Smith. I’m the high school writer from Baton Rouge who goes to work.”