2020 has been a particularly miserable year for many and that’s only been compounded in recent days with notable deaths of well-liked people, which now includes former NBA All-Star and Portland Trail Blazers player Cliff Robinson, who died at the age of 53 this week.

No cause of death was given for Robinson, affectionally nicknamed “Uncle Cliffy” by fans. Former UConn head coach Jim Calhoun, who coached Robinson in college, told reporters that Robinson had suffered a stroke two and a half years ago.

“It’s really sad to hear of this because he was one of my kids, my players, a guy I watched grow into a man,” Calhoun told reporters. “It’s not an easy thing.”

“He was our first great player,” former UConn coach Jim Calhoun told Hearst 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.”

The 6-foot-11 Robinson spent 18 years in the NBA, earning a Sixth Man of the Year nod in 1993, two selections to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team, and one All-Star appearance. He was notably part of the Portland Trail Blazers squads that appeared in the NBA Finals in 1990 and 1992. He remains the franchise’s all-time leader in consecutive games played (461) and ranks among Portland’s all-time leaders in blocks (2nd), points (5th), games played (5th), steals (6th), three-pointers (7th) and rebounds (10th).

The team released a statement mourning the loss of one of their most well-liked players of all-time.

“The Trail Blazers organization is deeply saddened by the passing of Trail Blazers great Cliff Robinson… 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. … 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.”

After his time in Portland, he also played for the Phoenix Suns, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, and New Jersey Nets.

His post-playing career included a stint on the 28th season of Survivor, where he finished 14th overall. Robison was also part of the delegation of NBA players who traveled to North Korea as part of Dennis Rodman’s “basketball diplomacy” effort with the country. He also became a vocal activist and business owner in Oregon’s legalized marijuana industry, turning “Uncle Cliffy” into “Uncle Spliffy.”

[ESPN, Portland Trail Blazers]

About Sean Keeley

A graduate of Syracuse University, Sean Keeley is the creator of the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and author of 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse related things for SB Nation, Curbed, Neighborhoods.com, and many other outlets. He currently lives in Chicago.