The life of Jackie Robinson

Updated 3:47 PM ET, Thu January 31, 2019
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Jackie Robinson, who broke the color line in Major League Baseball by becoming the sport's first modern-day black player, had a rich life beyond the game. No wonder: "A life," he said, "is not important except in the impact it has on other lives." Click through for a look at Robinson's life. Hulton Archive
Robinson was born in Cairo, Georgia, but raised in Pasadena, California. He was a formidable athlete, lettering in four sports at UCLA and leading the nation in rushing as a football player. After a short stint in baseball's Negro Leagues, he signed a contract with the Dodgers organization and spent his first season with its Montreal Royals farm club. Here, he crosses home plate after hitting a three-run home run on Opening Day 1946. BettmannGetty Images
Robinson married Rachel in 1946. Through his years in baseball and afterward, she was his partner and sounding board, a steady companion when he was the subject of criticism and worse. She's still a vibrant presence at age 93. ASSOCIATED PRESS
Dodgers executive Branch Rickey eyed Robinson as the right man to break the color line and signed him to his first major league contract. The two are shown here in 1950. Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images
Dodgers shortstop and native Kentuckian Pee Wee Reese was a supporter of Robinson in the latter's first rough year in the majors, refusing to sign a petition from teammates for a boycott and -- according to some stories -- showing his solidarity by putting his arm around Robinson's shoulders. He became one of Robinson's best friends. The two are pictured in 1950 with their children, cooking soup. Rogers Photo Archive/Getty Images
Robinson played several positions for the Dodgers: mainly second base but also third base, first base and a little outfield. Here he leaps into the air in an attempt to make a double play as the Cubs' Hank Sauer slides into second in a 1952 game. Bettmann/Getty
Robinson was a terrific base runner, leading the National League twice in stolen bases and upsetting pitchers' rhythms on a regular basis. He also stole home 19 times in the regular season, and in the 1955 World Series, his steal of home in the eighth inning of Game 1 helped ignite Brooklyn to its only World Series victory (though they lost the game). Ralph Morse/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Robinson retired after the 1956 season and became active in other pursuits. He became an executive for the Chock Full o'Nuts coffee company, spoke out on civil rights -- and occasionally popped up on television, as with this appearance with Ed Sullivan in 1962. CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images
Jackie and Rachel Robinson had three children, from left: Jackie Jr., David and Sharon. They're shown at their home in Stamford, Connecticut, in 1962. Jackie Jr. died in a car accident in 1971 at age 24. AP
Robinson attends a meeting for Freedom Marchers in Williamston, North Carolina, in 1964. He was there to lend his name to the integration efforts in the city. Bettmann/Getty Images
Robinson signs autographs before the start of the Old Timers Game between the Angels and Dodgers at Anaheim Stadium in 1969. Three years later, he died of a heart attack at age 53. His legacy lives on in countless ways: His number has been retired by every baseball team, and Jackie Robinson Day is celebrated every April 15 in honor of his first day in the majors. Rachel Robinson founded the Jackie Robinson Foundation, which gives scholarships and leadership training to minority youths, in 1973. Bettmann/Getty Images