From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Givens, Reuben W., and Ruth Newby Givens Roper

Lexington, KY-natives Reuben Givens and Ruth Roper were the parents of actress Robin Givens, former wife of heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson, and Stephanie Givens (1962-2014), former professional tennis player.

Reuben was a star baseball and basketball player at Douglass and Lafayette High Schools in Lexington, KY. Charles H. Livisay coached him at Douglass. In 1962, he averaged 24.7 points in basketball, winning the Fayette County scoring title, but he did not receive the trophy after the sponsor backed out.

Givens was the second African American basketball player at Lafayette; Douglass High was closed as part of the school system's integration plan. Givens graduated from Lafayette in 1964, the same year he married Ruth Newby.

The family lived in New York, where Reuben was considering his options as a professional basketball and baseball player. Ruth had been living in New York with her mother since her parents had divorced when she was a small child; she met Reuben while visiting family in Lexington. Reuben and Ruth Givens divorced in 1969.

Reuben W. Givens, Jr., born May 20, 1944, was the son of Reuben W. Givens Sr, and Geraldine Floyd according to his record in the Kentucky Birth Index (Ancestry). He died February 22, 2022 in New York. He was a brother to Jack L. Givens. 

For more see the Lexington Herald-Leader articles: B. Reed, "Robin Givens' dad a former Douglass High star," 10/20/1988, Sports section, p. C1; and "Robin Givens' parents are Lexington natives," 10/15/1988, Sports section, p. D17.

*UPDATE: The following correction was received from Robert Taylor via an email message on September 14, 2023.
"Freddie Gill was the first. Reuben transferred with Freddie to Lafayette in the fall of 1964. Reuben was ruled acedemically ineligible to play the first semester. Reuben did NOT play that semester but Freddie did." Source: Marquis (Lafayette High School Yearbook), v.II, 1964, p.220 & p.223.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Fayette County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Lexington, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name

Item Relations

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Livisay, Charles H., Sr.
NKAA Entry: Givens, Jack L. "Goose"
NKAA Source: Lexington herald-leader (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Marquis

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Givens, Reuben W., and Ruth Newby Givens Roper,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed May 21, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-11-06 22:08:22