By Tyler Aquilina
August 29, 2020 at 12:26 PM EDT
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Steve DiPaoli/NBAE via Getty Images

Clifford Robinson, an 18-year veteran of the NBA and onetime contestant on Survivor, has died. He was 53.

The University of Connecticut, Robinson's alma mater, announced his death on Twitter Saturday. Robinson's family later announced he died of complications from lymphoma after being diagnosed in March 2019.

Nicknamed "Uncle Cliffy," Robinson played eight seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers beginning in 1989, helping the team reach the finals in 1990 and 1992 and the playoffs all eight years. He was selected for the NBA All-Star game in 1994, and went on to play for the Phoenix Suns, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, and New Jersey Nets before retiring in 2007.

After retiring, Robinson became known as an entrepreneur in the cannabis industry, selling various products under the brand "Uncle Spliffy." He was a staunch advocate for the legalization of the drug, citing its health benefits for alleviating pain and anxiety.

Robinson was also a contestant on the 28th season of Survivor, Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty, in 2014, becoming the fifth person to be eliminated that season.

Robinson's former team paid tribute to him in a Twitter post, writing, "The Trail Blazers organization is deeply saddened by the passing of Trail Blazers great Cliff Robinson. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Cliff’s family & loved ones. Uncle Cliffy will be greatly missed by the Trail Blazers & all of Rip City."

Robinson's family has set up a fundraiser to support cancer research via the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in his honor. He is survived by his six children, three brothers and a sister, and his mother Helena.

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