An incident at PJC illustrated Robinson's impatience with authority figures he perceived as racist—a character trait that would resurface repeatedly in his life. On January 25, 1938, he was arrested after vocally disputing the detention of a black friend by police. Robinson received a two-year suspended sentence, but the incident—along with other rumored run-ins between Robinson and police—gave Robinson a reputation for combativeness in the face of racial antagonism. Toward the end of his PJC tenure, Frank Robinson (to whom Robinson felt closest among his three brothers) was killed in a motorcycle accident. The event motivated Jackie to pursue his athletic career at the nearby University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he could remain closer to Frank's family.
UCLA and afterward
Athlete in UCLA track uniform at the apex of a jump, with legs lunging forward, against a background of an academic building.
Robinson in his UCLA track uniform
After graduating from PJC in spring 1939, Robinson transferred to UCLA, where he became the school's first athlete to win varsity letters in four sports: baseball, basketball, football, and track. He was one of four black players on the 1939 UCLA Bruins football team; the others were Woody Strode, Kenny Washington, and Ray Bartlett. Washington, Strode, and Robinson made up three of the team's four backfield players. At a time when only a handful of black players existed in mainstream college football, this made UCLA college football's most integrated team. In track and field, Robinson won the 1940 NCAA Men's Outdoor Track and Field Championship in the Long Jump, jumping 24'10.5". Belying his future career, baseball was Robinson's "worst sport" at UCLA; he hit .097 in his only season, although in his first game he went 4-for-4 and twice stole home.
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