“The UConn Basketball family mourns the loss of a legendary player and person, Clifford Robinson,” the university’s men’s basketball twitter account wrote. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Cliff’s family at this difficult time.”
The cause of death has not been given, but Robinson had recently experienced several issues with his health. He suffered a stroke in 2017, had a tumor removed from his jaw in 2018 and underwent surgery for cancer in March 2019.
A 6-foot-10 forward, Robinson began his basketball career at UConn in 1985 and was instrumental in the team winning the 1988 NIT championship. He was selected as the 36th NBA draft pick in the second round by the Portland Trail Blazers in 1989 and played there for eight seasons, leading the team to the playoffs each year and the NBA finals in 1990 and 1992.
Robinson won the Sixth Man of the Year Award for the 1992-1993 season, during which he averaged 19.1 points, 6.6. rebounds and 1.99 blocks per game. Robinson was named an All-Star with the team in 1994. In the remaining years of his career, Robinson went on to play for the Phoenix Suns, the Detroit Pistons, the Golden State Warriors and the New Jersey Nets.
After the Blazers won game four of the 1992 Western Conference Finals against the Utah Jazz, Robinson performed a victory dance that he coined the “Uncle Cliffy.” Robinson has been known as Uncle Cliffy ever since, even beginning a cannabis business of the same name.
In 2014, Robinson was a contestant on the 28th season of “Survivor,” a reality show that leaves its contestants in the wild where they must fend for themselves and compete in challenges for rewards. The theme of the season was “Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty,” and Robinson was placed on the “Brawn” team. Although he initially did not reveal his true identity, another contestant on the show recognized Robinson and his secret was out. Robinson was the fifth contender to be voted off the island.
Robinson is survived by his wife, Heather Lufkins, and son, Isaiah Robinson.