"Make your second chance your best chance. You're not given a lot of chances but if you're given a second one, that's the one you have to make your best one."
Robert Eppinger's first chance hit its highest point when Jefferson brought home a fourth place finish at state in 2005. Shortly after, he was arrested for his involvement in a fight and plead guilty to battery. It was a transformative moment.
"It's something I'm glad that happened. Why? It helped me grow as an individual. Helped me become the man I am right now. Without that mistake in my life, I wouldn't be the person I am today."
Eppinger knew he threw away his first shot when recruiters backed away after RPS 205 expelled him.
"I had something valuable, I grew from that. I took it as that I'm still the same person before the incident happened, but I know you can learn from your mistakes."
Eleven years after Jefferson's splash of a season, Eppinger was back in Rockford. He's coaching AAU youth basketball in Minnesota now...That's a side project to his full time job.
"I'm a behavior dean at an alternative school. It's funny because when I got into the incident, I was forced to go to an alternative school which I didn't do if I had stayed in Rockford. That was the whole transformation, moving to Minneapolis so I didn't have to go to an alternative school. So now I'm a behavior dean at an alternative school. God works in different ways."
Eppinger's life took a detour, but he has forgiven himself. His mission is to make sure others do the same, echoing a familiar refrain of new opportunities.
"No one is perfect. I tell my group of kids that. If you miss a jump shot? Guess what - you get another chance to make it again. That's how life is. You make mistakes but if you make that second chance your best chance, the sky is the limit."
Robert Eppinger has made the most of his second shot at success. He had his triumph in 2005, and in 2016, he's giving others their chance.