In this series, I re-imagine the lives of Black folks gone too soon.
#BlackHistoryReimagined, Day 16: Clifford Robinson, born on December 16, 1966, in Buffalo, New York, is best known for his 18 seasons in the NBA, most prominently playing with the Portland Trailblazers where he made playoff appearances each season he was on the team, with two finals appearances. Throughout his NBA career, Robinson had been a one-time All-Star and won the Sixth Man of the Year Award. At age 33 while playing for the Phoenix Suns, he became the oldest player in NBA history to register his first 50-point game. While he received accolades from the league, he also received suspensions related to marijuana use. He had been arrested for marijuana possession and driving under the influence, for which he received a one-game suspension. A few years later, in one season he received two five-week suspensions for violating terms of the NBA’s drug policy. Robinson retired from the NBA in 2007 following his release from the New Jersey Nets. He is one of seven players to record 1,300 steals and 1,300 blocked shots in their ABA/NBA career. He later became an advocate for the legalization of marijuana and a cannabis entrepreneur, selling assorted cannabis products under his "Uncle Cliffy" brand.
The late 2010s brought Robinson several health issues. In 2017, he suffered a stroke that paralyzed the left side of his body, although he was able to recover much of his arm and leg movement. In 2018, he had a tumor removed from his jaw, and in 2019 he underwent cancer treatment surgery. On August 29, 2020, Robinson struck a partnership with NBA Cares to provide medicinal marijuana resources to cancer patients in all of the cities he played for in the league, pending the state has legalized the substance for such use. He is also working with league advisers to have the use of marijuana extracted from the list of NBA term violations as he remains strong that his use of cannabis improved his ability to play while securing the longevity of his NBA career. He does agree a player should not participate in a game under the influence, however, he hopes that otherwise using marijuana would no longer result in suspensions or expulsions.
[#BlackHistoryReimagined is a series of posts that re-imagines the lives of Black folks gone too soon, by writing a story that does not end in their deaths. Throughout this month, I implore you to go on this imaginary journey with me and think of what could have been. The stories are based on the people’s real lives; the ending has been altered to allow them to live out whatever they were actually working on or could have done had they been given more time on earth.]