NBA icon Nate Robinson has revealed he has been battling kidney failure for the last four years, taking his diagnosis public for the first time in a bid to raise awareness.
Robinson, 38, revealed on Instagram that he has been privately battling renal kidney failure for several years, leaving the basketball world stunned and saddened.
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Drafted 21st overall in 2005, Robinson defied his 175cm frame to electrify the NBA world, making a name for himself as a three-time slam dunk contest champion across an 11-year career in the league.
The news prompted a wave of support from the basketball community, with Robinson admitting he'd 'never been a leader on the court' but hoped to be a beacon for good in the difficult times he is facing.
“I’m sharing this now because I want to be the voice for all those who are having trouble speaking about this illness and come together for a greater cause – our health,” Robinson wrote.
“I was never a vocal leader on the court. I preferred to lead by example, but now it’s time for me to speak up and help all those affected by or dealing with Kidney Disease.”
Robinson made a name for himself on the New York Knicks where he played five seasons, peaking in the 2008/09 season averaging 17 points and four assists.
He played for a total of 11 NBA teams, last appearing in two games for the New Orleans Pelicans in 2016.
His announcement came on the same weekend Hall of Fame centre Dikembe Mutombo was revealed to have been diagnosed with a brain tumour.
NBA fans on social media were left gutted by the news.
Sad to hear the news about Nate Robinson and Dikembe Mutombo. I pray the treatment rids them of their medical issue and both have a speedy recovery. 🙏🏾
— GOWIE (@DaKidGowie) October 16, 2022
You got this @nate_robinson. As someone who has undergone dialysis at end-stage renal failure prior to my transplant last year, I know the struggles so many people face on a daily basis with this disease. I wish you the best with your treatments and health.❤️
— Chris Manning (@LD2K) October 16, 2022
Nate Robinson saying he’s been dealing with this for four years means he competed as a boxer dealing with this, which feels insane. https://t.co/vY3kxZsIpU
— Chris Manning (@cwmwrites) October 16, 2022
May every available good vibe find Nate Robinson https://t.co/rUetPmcQ3d
— Monte Poole (@MontePooleNBCS) October 16, 2022
Oh man – hate seeing that @nate_robinson is dealing with this, but no surprise he’s trying to help others even now. To the 3x Slam Dunk champion and one of the most fun hoopers out there – get better soon, we need you. pic.twitter.com/aPuDt8mbDT
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) October 16, 2022
Nate, nothing stood in your way during your career. Now, it's different kind of battle, you will go though.
Stay Strong!@nate_robinson pic.twitter.com/L68ihV42gQ
— Hapoel Tel Aviv BC (@HapoelTLVBC) October 16, 2022
🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾 my brother you got this🙏🏾💪🏾🙏🏾
— Marcus Camby (@MarcusCamby23) October 16, 2022
Incredibly, Robinson was dealing with the diagnosis when he agreed to fight Jake Paul in a boxing match back in November 2020.
That fight ended in Robinson losing to Paul via a second round knockout.
The news about Robinson came as a double-blow for basketball fans, already reeling from the NBA's announcement that Mutumbo was being treated for a brain tumour.
Regarded as one of the best defenders in the league's history, Mutombo has been a global ambassador for the NBA for a number of years.
The 56-year-old – who hails from the Democratic Republic of Congo – is widely loved and respected across the world, and was one of the most iconic players of the 1990s and 2000s.
"Dikembe Mutombo is currently undergoing treatment for a brain tumor," the NBA statement said.
"He is receiving the best care possible from a collaborative team of specialists in Atlanta and is in great spirits as he begins treatment," the statement said.
"Dikembe and his family ask for privacy during this time so they can focus on his care. They are grateful for your prayers and good wishes."
NBA commissioner Adam Silver sent a message of support, saying: "Our thoughts and prayers are with Dikembe, one of the world's great humanitarians."
The towering Congolese is an eight-time NBA All-Star, and ranks second all-time in the league for blocked shots (3,289), behind Nigeria's Hakeem Olajuwon.
He was the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year four times.
Mutombo and Olajuwon were the first major basketball talents from Africa to make a name in the NBA, opening the door for others such as Luol Deng and Joel Embiid.
His signature move was a finger wag, which he used to let opponents know he was not to be taken lightly.
Mutombo was drafted by the Nuggets in the first round in 1991, before heading to Atlanta and Philadelphia. He played in the NBA Finals twice, though both were losing efforts.
He wrapped up his pro career in 2009 after 18 seasons.
He started the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation in 1997 to improve the quality of life for people in his home country.
Before his time in the NBA, Mutombo was a standout for the Georgetown University Hoyas, only joining the basketball team as a sophomore and graduating with a linguistics degree. His son Ryan now plays at Georgetown.
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