Jordan-Matthews legend returns home to speak at school’s fall sports banquet

Robert Siler honored as a multi-sport star at Jordan-Matthews.


The name “Siler City” bore a new, yet familiar meaning for a couple of hours last Thursday night.

Former Jordan-Matthews football and basketball legend Robert Siler returned to his alma mater as a guest speaker for the school’s fall athletic awards banquet. Dozens of student-athletes, parents and coaches filled the cafeteria, giving Siler their full attention like it was the 1980s when the city was his.

“I appreciate the opportunity of coming down here,” Siler said. “I just want to come down here and thank you for what you’ve done. I thank this community for what they’ve done for me.”

Siler graduated from Jordan-Matthews in 1987. In his senior year, he scored 37 touchdowns on the field, averaged 19 points and seven rebounds on the court and set the school’s triple jump record, earning him NCHSAA Male Athlete of the Year Honors, North Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year honors for both football and basketball and Parade All-American honors all in the 1986-87 academic year.

Siler went on to play basketball at Wake Forest, where he played 94 games and achieved a career average of 9.4 points despite suffering two major knee injuries.

After eight seasons of professional basketball in Argentina, Siler now works a car sales manager in Asheville, North Carolina. While sharing some of his life story and his upbringing as an athlete at Jordan-Matthews, Siler’s message to the young Jets Thursday night was to “be the best you can be."

“Stop making excuses for yourself,” Siler said. “When it’s time to get up to go to practice, go to practice, be on time.”

In high school, Siler didn’t have much room to make excuses, especially with his basketball coach, John Phillips, picking him up from his house for workouts in the summer. Siler attributed much of his success to Phillips, who also made an appearance at the banquet.

“Robert Siler is the most decorated athlete the county,” Phillips said. “Now you might say ‘you’re biased because you’re his coach.’ Well, find me another guy who was recruited nationally in basketball and football, and I’ll say he was better.”

Siler said “it means a lot” that his former coach and the community give him his flowers for his athletic achievements, but he emphasized how he couldn’t have done it without his teammates.

“As Coach Phillips probably knows, I’m about teamwork,” Siler said. “If I didn’t have that line in front of me, that 4.4 speed ain’t going nowhere.”

For Jordan-Matthews, Siler’s appearance is another step in athletic director Barry West’s plans to restore the buzz around the school’s athletics. Still in his first year as the school’s athletic director, West has overseen ongoing improvements to its athletic facilities, and now he’s making efforts to honor and recognize its rich athletic history that the younger generation may not know about.

Even though he already had his jersey retired at a Jordan-Matthews football game in 2022, knowing the legend of “Robert Siler from Siler City” is a good start.