Rolling Out

Former NBA star Nate Robinson battling kidney failure

The prognosis isn’t good for the diminutive athlete if a donor isn’t found soon
Former NBA star Nate Robison (Image source: Instagram - @naterobinson)

Former NBA guard Nate Robinson, known for defying the odds, faces a dire prognosis as his kidneys are functioning at less than 15 percent capacity. Without a kidney donor soon, his condition is critical.

Robinson, 40, fashioned an 11-year professional basketball career despite standing only 5 feet 9 in a league where the average height is almost 6-foot-7, or 10 inches taller. He played for the Denver Nuggets, Oklahoma City Thunder, New Orleans Pelicans, New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Clippers and the Chicago Bulls.

He also became the first player in history to win the Slam Dunk Contest three times. When he was 32, he flirted with the idea of trying his hand at the NFL, saying that football was his best sport.

“I gotta stick around. I want to stay alive for the next 40 years: be a grandpa, see my kids’ kids, take them to the gym, tell them the stories of when I was in the NBA around ‘Bron and Kob’ and all these guys,” he told Men’s Health. “I gotta fight for it.”

Diagnosed at 22

Robinson was diagnosed with kidney disease when he was 22, with doctors predicting that he would experience kidney failure in his 30s — which happened in 2018, at the age of 34. Still, Robinson said he “felt like I was Superman.”

Robinson told the magazine that team doctors also had warned him of high blood pressure and even tried to stop him from playing games if his pressure was too high. The National Kidney Foundation cites high blood pressure and diabetes as two of the main culprits in kidney disease.

Instead, Robinson went into denial, even telling doctors to stop checking his kidneys.

“I never thought I would get sick,” he told the magazine.

In 2020, Robinson said he caught COVID and ended up in the hospital. Doctors told him that his kidneys were working too hard and he needed to start dialysis.

“They told me I might as well start dialysis today,” he said, recalling his 2020 visit. “‘Your kidneys are working too hard; they’re deteriorating as we speak. The only way you will walk out of here alive is if you start dialysis.’ It was the only thing I had left.”

Robinson hasn’t given up hope.

“That’s one thing I respect about myself,” he said. “I’ve never been a quitter. And I ain’t gon’ start now.”

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