Eddie Griffin Killed When his SUV Collided with a TrainEddie Griffin, whose life and NBA career were plagued by his struggles with substance abuse, died last week when his SUV crashed into a train in Houston. He was just 25 years old. The reason that it took a week for this announcement to be made is that Griffin's body was burned beyond recognition after the accident, necessitating the use of dental records to make a positive identification.
Griffin had some well publicized run-ins with the law and has already been the subject of some tasteless comments that were posted shortly after word of his death became publicly known but the people who knew him paint a picture of a good person who was deeply troubled. Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander said, "I found him to be a very quiet, sweet, charming, nice person. It's a shame somebody this young has to die this way. The whole Rockets organization is devastated. Our wishes and thoughts go out to his family and friends." Griffin was drafted seventh overall by the New Jersey Nets in 2001 but the Rockets, believing that he could be their power forward of the future, acquired him in exchange for three first round picks. Griffin made the All-Rookie Second Team in 2001-02, averaging 8.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg and 1.8 bpg. Very gifted athletically, Griffin blocked at least 100 shots in each of his first four NBA seasons, ranking 10th in the NBA with 2.1 bpg in 2005-06. By that time, he was a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves, who signed him in 2004 after the Rockets and Nets had released him in the wake of Griffin's numerous legal problems and chronic unreliability.
Rusty Hardin, Griffin's attorney, described the Griffin he knew: "Eddie was like a man-child. He was a wonderful, gentle soul, but he was an alcoholic. Alcohol always got in the way. The one thing the Rockets didn't know and none of us knew was the extent of the problem. It's really tragic. What people don't know is Eddie didn't go out partying, he didn't go wild or was a jerk. He was secretly drinking. He would have been the savior power forward the Rockets needed if not for (alcohol). When alcohol wasn't involved, he was one wonderful, gentle giant."
John Lucas, the number one overall pick in the 1976 NBA draft, suffered his own bouts with substance abuse and did his best to help Griffin. "Eddie is free now. Eddie was just a special basketball talent. He was doing well for periods. He would go up and down mentally and spiritually. But Eddie was a good person."
posted by David Friedman @ 4:49 PM