He was born on January 31, 1919 in Cairo, Georgia, the fifth, and last child of Mallie and Jerry Robinson. Jackie was a four-sport athlete in high school and college; during a spectacular athletic career at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA,) he had starred in basketball, football, track, and baseball (and became the first student to earn varsity letters in four sports: football (1939 and 1940,) basketball (1940 and 1941,) track (1940) and baseball (1940.)
Jackie found a job in the winter of 1941 in Honolulu, where he played in the semipro Hawaii Senior Football League for the Honolulu Bears. He stayed at Palama Settlement, rather than with the team in Waikiki (the hotels barred him entry because of the color of his skin.) Jackie left Honolulu on December 5, 1941, just two days before the Japanese attacked. On April 15, 1947 Jackie Robinson started at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers in their opening-day game against the Boston Braves. In so doing, he became the first African-American to play in the major leagues since an abortive attempt at integration in 1884.