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Five surgeries and bucketloads of eye-growth steroids later, there was no improvement. His new shrink said he showed signs of posttraumatic stress syndrome, said he feared Robson might off himself.

His fiancée at the time bailed and she emptied his bank account on the way out of town.

"I pretty much lost it. My life would consist of going up the hill to talk to the shrink and they would dope me up even more than I was doped up. I wanted my left eye back. Then I would walk down the hill and hit my favorite pub. I was drinking like a fish, 15, 20 pints a day.

"They say my right eye could go at any time. I can't skateboard anymore, I can't mountain bike, and I can't life weights."

With less than 50 percent vision in his right eye, Robson is now considered legally blind. A lawyer had to sue on his behalf to receive disability from social security.

A good deal on turntables inspired Robson to take his downtown discotronic mix of pop, jazz and hip-hop public. He spins at parties and small functions. He spins the first Friday of each month at a downtown bar, a scene in which artists present their work.

He's attending school with hopes of becoming a special ed teacher with a focus in Braille. He's getting married soon.

In the end of The Old Man and the Sea, Santiago takes to his bed and is "dreaming about the lions." He's found his maker and has a sense of calm with the world around him. That's why we cared about him, even envied him, despite his hard life.

Robson remembers sitting one night on the stern of the Harvester, so tired he could barely think. He says he looked down and saw something that will stay with him, something that made him a brother with Santiago.

"I saw an orca pawing a giant halibut and mouthing it to a smaller whale. There's another smaller whale following 30 feet away cruising with the boat. It was a pod of killer whales. In my mind I knew I would never see this anywhere, particularly Phoenix. That's why I was there. It's not because of the money; it's because of the adventure, because I could see things like this. You know what? I can't see very well anymore, and my head is filled with all this beauty."

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Brian Smith
Contact: Brian Smith