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Former Trail Blazers Great Cliff Robinson Passes Away at Age 53

Robinson helped the Blazers to the greatest sustained run in franchise history.

1997 NBA Playoffs - Round One Game Two: Los Angeles Lakers v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Former Portland Trail Blazers star Cliff Robinson has passed away at he age of 53. Claudine Ewing of WGRZ in Buffalo, NY broke the news this morning.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports confirms.

Robinson played for the Trail Blazers from 1989, when he was drafted 36th overall out of the University of Connecticut, until August of 1997, when he signed as a free agent with the Phoenix Suns. His Blazers tenure was part of an 18-year career in which he would suit up for the Blazers, Suns, Pistons, Warriors, and Nets. Robinson was an All-Star for Portland in 1994. He also won the 1992-93 Sixth Man of the Year Award.

Known for his defense, his ability to play all three frontcourt positions, and his trademark headband, “Uncle Cliffy” became a key part of Portland’s run to the 1990 and 1992 NBA Finals along with teammates Clyde Drexler, Terry Porter, Jerome Kersey, Buck Williams, and Kevin Duckworth. He averaged 16.2 points and 5.2 rebounds per game during his eight years in Portland, 14.2 points and 4.6 rebounds during his long career.

After the NBA, Robinson starred on a season of the CBS reality show Survivor and became an activist—and later proprietor—in Oregon’s emerging legalized marijuana industry. This year he asked for, and received, an apology from the city of Portland for a racial profiling incident that occurred in 1997.

Robinson suffered a stroke in 2017, then had a tumor removed from his jaw in 2018.

Blazer’s Edge remembered Robinson this spring as one of our Top 100 Trail Blazers figures of all time. The site and its staff offer condolences to Cliff Robinson’s family and friends, heartfelt thanks to Cliff for all the wonderful memories.


The official statement from the Trail Blazers:

PORTLAND, Ore. (August 29, 2020) – The Trail Blazers organization is deeply saddened about the passing of Trail Blazers great Cliff Robinson. Robinson started his career in Portland in 1989 and stayed for eight seasons before continuing his 18-year career in the NBA. 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. 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. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Cliff’s family and loved ones. Uncle Cliffy will be greatly missed by the Trail Blazers and all of Rip City.


Per Shams Charania of The Athletic, Robinson’s family is stating that Lymphoma was the cause of death. They also celebrated Cliff’s work for social justice and his mental fortitude as he waged battles not just in the NBA, but life.