Just six years removed from being selected seventh overall in the 2001 NBA Draft after averaging 17.8 points, 10.8 rebounds and 4.4 blocks as a freshman at Seton Hall, Eddie Griffin's life and tumultuous NBA career were cut short by his tragic death at the age of 25.
The 6-foot-10 big man enjoyed a solid rookie season in 2001-02 (8.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.8 blocks) for the Rockets, but never made the strides expected of him in future seasons as he battled alcoholism. Following some run-ins with the law and after missing practices and a team flight, the Rockets eventually waived Griffin in 2003.
He received treatment for alcohol abuse in 2004 and eventually landed with the Timberwolves for the 2004-05 season, where his solid campaign earned him a new three-year contract. Unfortunately, continued issues saw him waived again in 2007.
In the early hours of August 17, Griffin's car struck a moving train before bursting into flames. The 25-year-old had three times the legal alcohol limit in his system at the time. His body was identified days later.
"Basketball was never an issue with him. He needed more life lessons, and unfortunately he was never able to reach his potential," former Timberwolves head coach Dwane Casey said of Griffin, via this 2007 ESPN story.
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