Nate Robinson once electrified NBA fans with his eye-popping athleticism. Despite being one of the shortest players in the entire league, the 5-foot-9 Robinson could soar for slam dunks. In fact, he won three Slam Dunk Contest titles during his 10-year NBA career.

But amid a battle with renal disease, Robinson has admitted he will not survive if he does not receive a kidney transplant.

In a Men's Health story by Tyler R. Tynes, Robinson said while he was diagnosed with kidney disease nearly 20 years ago in 2006, he is in dire need of a new kidney.

“Robinson had made a life out of doing the impossible, but now life robbed him of the same springs that vaulted him into the spotlight, that made him a modern showman for the game,” Tynes wrote. “He tells me that if he doesn’t get a kidney soon, death is the next door he will walk through.”

Nate Robinson fighting for life amid kidney disease battle

Former NBA player Nate Robinson

In 2006, not too long after the New York Knicks drafted him, Nate Robinson received the diagnosis of kidney disease. But even with the diagnosis and Knicks team doctors trying to stop him from playing due to high blood pressure and having already felt the effects, Robinson shrugged them off and played through it all.

Robinson, who averaged 11.0 points per game in more than 600 NBA games, continued to play in the league until 2015. He then began playing overseas. But in 2018, the issues Robinson had largely been ignoring and denying came to the forefront. His kidneys began to fail. And two years later, he got so sick from COVID that he checked himself into the hospital.

“When I got back home to Seattle, I went straight to the hospital,” Robinson told Tynes. “It was bad, bro. I was in the hospital for a week. My body, my insides just… stopped working and s–t.

“[The doctors] told me I might as well start dialysis today. ‘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.”

Since then, Robinson has had to deal with the physical and mental reality of fighting renal disease.

“Since they’ve failed, Robinson’s kidneys have been functioning at less than 15 percent of their optimal capacity,” Tynes wrote. “The fluids that the machines filter into and out of his body aren’t always a perfect science.

“Some days he experiences charley-horse-like cramps all over his body after losing too much fluid; other days, violent vomiting and shortness of breath when there’s an excess.”

There is no guarantee Robinson will be able to get a spot on the transplant list for a new kidney or, even if he does, if he will receive a new kidney. Friends, like former NBA player and fellow Seattle native Jamal Crawford, have tried to help by publicly supporting and advocating for Robinson in his search for a suitable donor.