Basketball star and Survivor contestant Clifford Robinson died on Saturday (Aug 29) at the age 0f 53. No cause of death was revealed, although Robinson’s former University of Connecticut coach, Jim Calhoun, told the Associated Press that the athlete had a stroke 2 1/2 years ago, and went into a coma last week.
Robinson guided the University of Connecticut basketball team out from the bottom and later in his career, almost helped take the Portland Trail Blazers to the top.
“He averaged five points as a freshman and I remember I told him, ’You have two choices: I can kick you out if you keep doing what you do, or I’m going to watch you play a lot of years in the NBA,’” former UConn coach Jim Calhoun said. “He chose the latter, which was good.”
“His personality and energy were unmatched, and his contributions on the court were unmistakable, helping the Trail Blazers into the playoffs each of his eight seasons with the team,” the Blazers said.
“His streak of 461 consecutive games played with the Trail Blazers still stands as a franchise record, which is a testament to his hard work and dedication to the team. . … Uncle Cliffy will be greatly missed by the Trail Blazers and all of Rip City.”
Robinson starred on Survivor Season 28 in the winter of 2014. The season’s theme was “Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty, and Robinson was placed on the “Brawn” tribe, Aparri. Filmed in Cagayan, a province in the Philippines, tested the pre-conceived notion that that certain characteristics will help win the game of Survivor.
Initially, Robinson planned to keep his identity secret, but he was recognized by Yung “Woo” Hwang, who admitted to being a fan. After a tribe swap, Trish Hegarty revealed her strong distaste for Robinson and convinced fellow tribemate Tony Vlachos to vote with her to eliminate him. He was the fifth contestant of the season to be voted out, finishing in 14th place. The two ended up as runner up and winner, respectively.
A moment of silence was held for Robinson before the start of the NBA playoff game between Milwaukee and Orlando.