Cliff Robinson, the first-ever pro-basketball player to appear on the CBS reality TV show “Survivor,” has died at the age of 53. The cause of his death has not been revealed, though he had suffered a brain hemorrhage in March of 2017. He had an 18-year career in the NBA.
The 6-foot-10 forward helped his alma mater, the University of Connecticut, win the 1988 NIT title. He then joined the Portland Trail Blazers in 1989, playing eight years for the franchise and helping the team reach the NBA finals in 1990 and 1992. Known as “Uncle Cliffy,” he won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award in 1993. Robinson would go on to play for the Phoenix Suns, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors and New Jersey Nets.
In 2014, he participated in the 28th season of “Survivor: Cagayan — Brains vs. Beauty vs. Brawn.” The Buffalo, N.Y., native was part of the “Brawn” tribe and the towering athlete tried to keep his identity a secret.
Robinson would strike up a friendship with fellow Brawn tribe mate Woo Hwang, a martial arts instructor, who immediately recognized him, saying, “I have a few of your basketball cards, I’m not going to lie.”
He was the fifth person voted out of the game. Also appearing on the show that season was Tony Vlachos, who recently became the second player to claim the title of Sole Survivor twice earlier this year on Season 40, “Winners at War.”
We are saddened to learn that #Survivor (and NBA) legend Cliff Robinson has died at 53, confirmed by news sources.
"Uncle Cliffy" was an instrumental part of making Season 28: Cagayan as good as it was. He was also the first former NBA player on the show. pic.twitter.com/5Jkh3TRPEk
— Survivor Reddit (@Survivor_Reddit) August 29, 2020