Despite Loss, Robert Patterson
is Focused on Achieving His Goals and Continuing to Making
His Mom Proud
- Written byAmber Klinck
- Photographed byNancy Pastor
Robert Patterson has wanted to be a police officer since he was 9 years old. “[They] would come to my old school during career days, and I would just look at them like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is what I want to do,’” he says. With Robert wrapping up his senior year at Rolling Hills Prep with a Dean’s Scholarship to Vanguard University, he is well on his way to making his childhood dream a reality.
“I want to study psychology and become a police officer after college,” he notes. As an officer, he wants to connect directly with those in need. “I really want to help people,” he says.
This aspiration to be of service isn’t new for Robert, but it has been fortified by his own experiences—particularly the loss of his mother, Lisa Patterson. Lisa was one of the 58 people killed during the 2017 Las Vegas shooting at the Route 91 Harvest music festival.
“I definitely threw myself into football at that time. It was the biggest stress-reliever I had. Just going to practice and being able to hit away anything that I had, it took my mind off of everything.”
“After everything that has happened, it’s really brought up a lot of empathy in my life,” Robert shares. “I’ve started to realize how much I could help people by going to the [police] academy and just being on call for [those] who have no idea what their situation is—or if they need help—because I know how it feels.”
On Monday, October 2, 2017, Robert’s father, also named Robert, woke his son at 5 a.m. “It was a pretty crazy day,” Robert remembers. His father had been up all night trying to reach Lisa after learning of the shooting. As morning came, the two decided to get in the car and drive to Vegas.
“For about 11 hours we were just going hospital to hospital, talking to people,” Robert says. “We had no idea where she was until finally, at the convention center, they told us. It was a devasting day.”
Robert was 16 when he lost his mother. When he returned to school two short weeks after her passing, he tried to distract himself. “I definitely threw myself into football at that time. It was the biggest stress-reliever I had. Just going to practice and being able to hit away anything that I had, it took my mind off of everything.”
His grades initially, and understandably, took a hit. But with the help and support of his teachers, Robert completed his first trimester after the loss with one of his highest GPAs to date.
Today Robert still finds solace in sports. “I play baseball, soccer and football for Rolling Hills Prep,” he notes. “We’re in baseball season right now, and we’re on our eighth [year] as Coastal League Champions.”
He also works as an umpire for ASA softball in Palos Verdes. He is focused on maintaining his grades, taking care of himself and spending time with his friends, his girlfriend and, of course, his family.
Robert, his sisters Amber and Brooke, and their father are incredibly close. Between them, they keep Lisa’s memory alive.
“We talk about her a lot, and we pray every single night,” Robert says. “My older sister, Amber, doesn’t live here, [but] she comes here every night to say goodnight to me and Brooke and my dad. If she can’t make it, she calls. We always keep in touch.”
When asked to describe his mother, Robert does so with a beautiful simplicity that captures who she was as a mom. “She was always present for every single softball game for my sisters,” he says, “and she would always come to my baseball games. Even if my football game would be hours away, she would still [be there.] She’d be known for how loud she could be cheering. She was also really known for being active in the community. At my old school, St. John Fisher, she was the PTA president. And she was always helping with mass and organizing. She was just always present in everything.”
For Robert, there are good days and bad days. “I would say I’m doing pretty well,” he says. “Today was one of my good days, but there are definitely days where I’m taken back, and I just need to recuperate.”
Good days or bad, Robert is confident with the path he’s chosen. “I always told her I wanted to be a police officer, and she was proud of me to think like that. I think she’d love what I’m doing right now.”