Remembering Eddie Griffin (1982-2007)
Do you remember Eddie Griffin? No not the comedian but the 6’10 high school phenom that won MVP at the ABCD camp, named Parade HS Player of the Year, won Freshman of the Year at Seton Hall and was considered by many to be the most talented player going into the 2001 NBA draft? The stone cold faced power forward who would catch fire late in Rocket games and hit one clutch 3 after another? The defensive force who would go on double double streaks with 5 or more blocks? Probably not.
What most people remember is a talented prospect who fell to the 7th pick because of questions about his attitude. A troubled young man – the youngest Rocket ever at 19 – who had a losing battle with alcohol throughout his career. A scared young man who once tried to bribe police officers and buy the owner of a parked car he hit, while intoxicated and masturbating, any car he wanted after a car accident. A life that ended on August 17th of 2007 when he was once again driving intoxicated, crashed into a train and burned in the flames.
“Everybody tried to help him from the top to the bottom of the organization,” said former coach Dwane Casey. “He just couldn’t get it straight. It’s a tragic ending for a beautiful kid. He had a beautiful heart.”
“Eddie is where he wanted to be,” said John Lucas. “He’s happy. I don’t know that he loved basketball. I think he liked it because it provided for him. I do know he loved his sister, his family … But it was hard to get on the other side of Eddie Griffin.”
He was just 25 years old at the time of the accident.
EDDIE GRIFFIN VS DAJUAN WAGNER (2000)
A few weeks after dominating future pro DeShawn Stevenson, Griffin and Roman Catholic took on Camden and one of the best high school players of all time – Dajuan Wagner. Over 9,000 people, including Allen Iverson and Larry Hughes, showed up and watched Griffin, with a sprained ankle, put up 29 points, 6 rebounds and 5 blocks as his team crushed Wagner’s team 72-47.
THE FADED SMILE
If you want to read more about Griffin’s life then check out this great story by Jonathan Abrams of Grantland.