Eddie Jamaal Griffin (May 30 1982 – August 17 2007) was an American professional Basketball player. He last played for the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves, who waived him March 13, 2007. Months later, he was killed in a car crash.
After a standout career at Roman Catholic High School in Philadelphia in which he was named Parade Magazine's National Player of the Year, Griffin was hailed as the top incoming freshmen ahead of the 2000-01 college basketball season. He competed in the McDonald's All American Game and led Roman to the Philadelphia Championship in his junior year, and was touted by some as the biggest basketball star to emerge from Philadelphia since Rasheed Wallace but played the pivot like Wilt Chamberlain.
As a freshman, Griffin averaged 17.8 points, 10.7 rebounds and 4.4 blocks for Seton Hall University, and was at one point thought to be a potential top pick in the 2001 NBA Draft. He was named the nation's Freshman of the Year by The Sporting News .
In January 2001, Griffin got in a fight with a teammate, and following this incident, the Pirates' season fell apart. Griffin left the school in somewhat acrimonious circumstances after his freshman year, and made himself available for the NBA Draft.
NBA career Edit
Despite his outstanding stats at Seton Hall, questions about his attitude made him slip to the 7th pick of the 2001 NBA Draft, where he was selected by the New Jersey Nets. Griffin's draft rights were immediately traded to the Houston Rockets for Jason Collins, Brandon Armstrong, and the rights to Richard Jefferson.
In his rookie year during the 2001-02 season, Griffin played in 73 games (starting 24) while averaging 8.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 1.84 blocks per game (ranking 13th in the NBA in that category). He followed with another solid year in 2002-03, averaging 8.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 1.44 blocks per contest.
However, Griffin suffered from alcoholism, and his troubles piled up quickly over the following year. In December 2003, the Rockets released him after he missed practices and a team flight. Griffin signed with the Nets in January 2004, but missed the entire 2003-04 season when he entered an alcohol rehabilitation center.
Prior to the 2004-05 season, the Timberwolves signed Griffin to a one-year contract, and for that season he put up roughly the same numbers he had in his two previous seasons. The Timberwolves re-signed Griffin for three years (player option in the third), starting with the 2005-06 season. Griffin had a relatively significant drop off in scoring and rebounding (whilst suffering only a slight drop in minutes per game), while averaging a career-high in blocks per game (2.11).
In March 2007, Griffin was released by the Timberwolves, who had grown tired of his attitude and off-court troubles.
Griffin had a history of violence dating back to his high school years. In his senior year at Roman, he got into a fight with a teammate in the cafeteria and was subsequently forced out of the school, though he received his diploma a month after graduation; the teammate was expelled. At Seton Hall, rumors circulated that he had gotten into several verbal and physical confrontations with teammates.
In February 2004, Griffin violated a court-ordered curfew stemming from charges of aggravated assault against his ex-girlfriend (he was accused of hitting her and shooting at her), and spent 11 days in jail. He pled guilty to deadly conduct over the aforementioned incident, and was sentenced to 18 months' probation, fined $2,000, and ordered to take anger-management classes.
On March 30, 2006, Griffin was involved in a car crash. Witnesses and friends stated that he was Masturbating while watching a Pornographic movie on a DVD in his vehicle. After the accident, Griffin entered a nearby Convenience store. The store's Security camera recorded video of Griffin repeatedly saying he was drunk, that he didn't have a driver's license, and pleading with the man whose SUV he crashed into, offering to buy him a new car in exchange for not calling the police. Police eventually did arrive, however, but allegedly did not require Griffin to submit to a Breathalyzer test or Field sobriety test. An investigation was conducted to determine if the officers violated standard protocol in light of Griffin's celebrity status.
Reports of Griffin's excessive drinking were steady through his NBA years. A family friend insisted those troubles could largely be traced to the death of his half-brother, Marvin Powell, in March 2001. Powell starred in basketball at Martin Luther King and Hartford and was a father figure for Eddie, who even lived with Powell in Connecticut through much of the early 1990s. However, the two had a falling-out during the winter of 2000-01, when Griffin was playing for Seton Hall and possible agents were being eyed. Powell died of a heart attack in March 2001.
Eddie Griffin died as a result of a car crash on August 17, 2007 at about 1:30 a.m. Griffin's body was badly burned and there was no initial identification. Dental records later revealed the man was Griffin. He had more than three times the legal alcohol limit in his system when he crashed, according to an autopsy report. The Harris County Medical Examiner's office said the 25-year-old Griffin died of "multiple blunt force injuries." The medical examiner's office performed tests on Griffin's bile and blood from his heart and liver and determined his blood-alcohol level was 0.26. The legal limit in Texas is 0.08. Tests found no traces of cocaine, barbiturates or any other narcotics. Former Timberwolves coach Dwane Casey said he had not talked to Griffin in five or six months but he knew that Griffin was spending the summer trying to get back in shape to play in Europe next season. He was buried in Northwood Cemetery in Philadelphia. He is survived by a 3-year-old daughter named Amaree.