Cliff Robinson, the former Portland Trail Blazers all-star forward-turned-reality TV star, has died at the age of 53.
The basketball player’s death was announced by his alma mater, the University of Connecticut, on Twitter Saturday: “The UConn Basketball family mourns the loss of a legendary player and person, Clifford Robinson. Our thoughts and prayers are with Cliff’s family at this difficult time. Rest In Peace, Cliff.”
No further details were immediately released.
“He was our first great player,” former UConn Huskies coach Jim Calhoun told David Borges of Hearst Connecticut Media. “He came from a difficult background in Buffalo; I watched him evolve as a man. … He was a good man, had a great career, and was instrumental in a lot of the great things that happened at UConn.”
Robinson was a major contributor to the Huskies throughout his last three collegiate seasons, averaging 20 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks as a senior. In the 1989 draft, he was selected by the Portland Trail Blazers as a second round pick. He was named the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year for the 1992-93 season before playing in his first and only all-star game in 1994.
Robinson played for the Phoenix Suns, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors and New Jersey Nets before retiring from the sport in 2007.
Robinson is also known for his appearance on Survivor: Cagayan, the series’ 28th season. The Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty theme landed him on the Brawn tribe, where he attempted to hide his identity but was soon recognized by tribemate Woo Hwang. Robinson’s towering presence eventually became a liability, and he became the fifth castaway voted off the show.