On December 16, which would have been Cliff Robinson’s 54th birthday, let’s remember the larger-than-life Survivor player and NBA star known as “Uncle Cliff.”


Robinson Played on ‘Survivor: Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty’

In what comes as no surprise, this former NBA star played on the “Brawn” tribe during Survivor’s 28th season, “Brains vs. Brawn vs Beauty,” which aired in the spring of 2014. His tribemate Woo Hwang recognized the 6’10” baller right away, but his tribe didn’t care that he played in the NBA. They just saw him as an asset in Survivor challenges — well, except for Tony Vlachos. This future two-time winner was not that keen on how popular Robinson was with the rest of the tribe.

In fact, right after Vlachos formed his “Cops-R-Us” alliance with Sarah Lacina, he lied to her and told her Robinson thought she should be voted out so that she would side with Vlachos in targeting Robinson. She was so convinced in Vlachos’ lie that she actually campaigned to Hwang and Trish Hegarty about throwing the immunity challenge so they could vote Robinson out.

Fortunately for Robinson, the Brawn tribe took second place anyway, even with several people trying to throw the challenge. So Robinson survived that vote and then the tribes were merged from three to two, but it still wasn’t enough — Hegarty and Vlachos sided with Jefra Bland and LJ McKanas to vote out Robinson in episode five. He was the fifth person voted out of that season.


Robinson Played 18 Seasons in the NBA

Robinson played college basketball for the University of Connecticut, then was selected in the second round of the 1989 NBA draft by the Portland Trailblazers, which is where he played until 1997, earning the honors of NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 1993 and being named an NBA all-star in 1994.

He went on to play for the Phoenix Suns, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, and New Jersey Nets, during which time he was named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team twice.

After a win in the 1992 Western Conference Finals, he famously performed a dance that he told reporters was called the “Uncle Cliffy” and the nickname stuck. He was known as “Uncle Cliff” for the rest of his career.


Robinson Died in August 2020 of Lymphoma

According to a statement released by his family, Robinson died of lymphoma (cancer of the immune system) in August 2020. He was 53 years old; he would have turned 54 on December 16 of this year.

“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,” read the statement.

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When he died, Jeff Probst posted to Instagram, “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.”

RIP, Cliff Robinson, and happy heavenly birthday. We loved watching you play basketball and Survivor.

There is no word yet on when Survivor will be back on the air. There is talk about the production team filming three seasons this spring so that they can air one in the summer of 2021, one in the fall and then one in the spring of 2022.

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