Cannabis Advocate and business owner Clifford “Uncle Spliffy” Robinson passed away at his home in Oregon on August 29.
Robinson began his career in basketball with the University of Connecticut where he left a lasting impression as he moved on to longtime career with National Basketball Association (NBA) teams Portland Trail Blazers, Phoenix Suns, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors and New Jersey Jets for a total of 18 NBA seasons. “He was our first great player,” said former coach Jim Calhoun. “He gave legitimacy to the program. As a player coming in, here’s this guy playing on TV for the Trail Blazers, watching him play, watching UConn being mentioned. You could not pay for the exposure that he gave us.”
Cliff was not frequently suspended during the course of his career, and there was one instance where he was suspended due to cannabis possession in 2001. Robinson retired in 2007, but eventually began to speak positively about how his cannabis consumption helped him during his career with the NBA.
In 2016 Robinson rebranded himself as “Uncle Spliffy” (a twist on a former nickname, “Uncle Cliffy”). He was invited to be a keynote speaker at the Cannabis Collaborative Conference that same year. “It’s an opportunity for me to get out there and tell people a little bit about myself outside of basketball,” Robinson said in his speech. “People in Oregon know me as a basketball player, but I want to distill the stigma around cannabis, the misperception that athletes and cannabis are incompatible.”
Eventually he unveiled his own line of cannabis products in the form of pre-rolls in 2017, and also opened his own cannabis dispensary. In 2018, he told the Las Vegas Sun that with a hectic basketball career, cannabis was a simple and effective method of relaxing. “If you play 18 years in the NBA and perform over an 82-game schedule, you’re going to deal with anxiety issues and your ability to relax. Cannabis has always helped me with that.”
Robinson’s cause of death has been attributed to a year-long battle with lymphoma. He is survived by his wife, Heather Lufkins and his son, Isaiah Robinson.