Three-time NBA slam dunk champion Nate Robinson has been dealing with renal kidney failure for the last four years, according to a statement released by the former New York Knicks player.
“I am currently undergoing treatment for Renal Kidney Failure and have been privately dealing with it for the last four years,” the statement read. “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.”
According to the American Kidney Fund, kidney failure is when your kidneys have stopped working well enough for you to survive without dialysis or a kidney transplant. Your kidneys have lost their ability to filter waste from your blood. Kidney failure is also called end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) or end-stage renal disease (ESRD).
Robinson was selected in the first round of the 2005 draft by the Phoenix Suns. The 5-foot-9 guard played for 11 seasons in the league for the New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder, and New Orleans Pelicans.
He continued his professional career overseas with Hapoel Tel Aviv of the Israeli Basketball Premier league and Guaros de Lara. In 2017 he won the Venezuelan League Championship with Guaros and was named Grand Final MVP.
At 5 feet 9 he was one of the best athletes in the league, often playing above the rim. His three slam dunk championships are an NBA record.
“I was never a vocal leader on the court,” Robinson admitted. “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. I am grateful for the care I’ve received and continue to receive during this process and hope through this announcement that I can help others like me.”
Despite dealing with kidney failure, Robinson continued to seek professional athletics as an outlet.
In November 2020 he stepped into the ring for a boxing match with the “Problem Child” Jake Paul. Robinson was knocked down a few times and Paul won the fight in a second-round knock-out.It is unclear where Robinson is in the five stages of kidney disease. The latter stages (four and five) represent severe kidney damage and the kidneys being non functioning. At that point a transplant is necessary.
37 million Americans suffer from kidney disease. That’s one in seven. It’s a disease that severely impacts your ability to function and can trigger additional health issues like anemia, gout, Secondary hyperparathyroidism, and heart disease.
If Robinson’s stature as a former athlete can highlight more awareness about the disease and those suffering, many lives can be spared through transplants, increased donations to fund research and new treatments.
Robinson was a two-sport athlete in college at the University of Washington, playing football in addition to basketball. He chose to focus on basketball during his sophomore season and finished his career as a two-time All-Pac-10 player.