Why NBA & ‘Survivor’ Star Cliff Robinson Died At 53

Cliff Robinson on Survivor: Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty, season 28.

CBS Cliff Robinson on Survivor: Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty, season 28.

Cliff Robinson was an 18-year NBA star and former Survivor contestant who died earlier this year. Here’s what we know about the cause of death and how his fellow Survivor family paid tribute to him.

Robinson’s Cause of Death Was Lymphoma

According to a statement released by his family, Robinson had lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system, which he had battled for about a year before his death. The statement read, “Clifford loved his family, friends, and fans! He was a fighter and had a mental fortitude that was priceless. He leaves behind his mother, Helena Horne, sister Alisa, brothers Craig, Torrey, and Rashard, and his beautiful children Jessica, Jaylen, Isaiah, Savannah, and twins Clifford and Lyle Robinson and a host of his very dear friends.

“Clifford was taken too soon, but it wasn’t for lack of not fighting his year-long battle with lymphoma. He will be terribly missed, but we are all so grateful that this effervescent human being was placed in our lives and we believe the world was a better place because he was in it.”

Robinson stood 6’10” and played for the University of Connecticut where he was a two-time Big East All-Conference selection. He was a second-round draft pick by the Portland Trailblazers and eventually played in 761 consecutive regular-season games for them, which is still a team record. He also played for the Phoenix Suns, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, and New Jersey Nets, retiring after the 2006-2007 season.

Robinson’s Survivor Family

Robinson appeared on Survivor: Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty, which was the 28th season of the show and aired in the spring of 2014. Robinson was, of course, put on the “brawn” side. After he died, his Survivor castmates and host Jeff Probst had nothing but wonderful things to say about their time together.

“To have Cliff Robinson, an NBA All-Star, play Survivor was a personal highlight for me. And he was one of the classiest people to ever play the game. He treated the other cast members and the entire crew with grace and respect. My condolences go out to his family,” wrote Probst in an Instagram post.

Fellow Aparri tribemate Sarah Lacina wrote in a post, “I can not believe the news! The world lost an amazing man. My condolences go out to his family, truly heartbreaking. I feel honored to have met such a legend. RIP Cliff! You will be missed by so many.”

“Uncle Cliff was one of my favorite NBA basketball players growing up,” wrote Yung “Woo” Hwang. “He played on a legendary Portland trailblazers team in the 90s alongside some of my other favorite ballers like Clyde ‘The Glide’ Drexler, The big man from Croatia, Drazen Petrovic, and Terry Porter. When I saw him for the first time in the airport before we flew out to the Philippines to play Survivor, I immediately recognized Uncle Cliff. When we got grouped on the same team ‘Brawn Tribe’ on Survivor I was PSYcHeD!!! I got to call the NBA all-star legend, Cliff Robinson A teammate… Ahaha I was losing it! We shared good laughs and memories out on that island in the Philippines. I will forever cherish and be grateful for our time together. My thoughts and prayers go out to Uncle Cliff and his loved ones at this time. God bless you and Rest easy my friend.”

Survivor hopes to film season 41 in the spring of 2021 for a fall 2021 premiere.

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