Eric Griffin: Fighting For His Dream

Sep 29, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks rookie forward Eric Griffin (21) poses for a portrait during media day at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 29, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks rookie forward Eric Griffin (21) poses for a portrait during media day at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

After competing at the RBA Showcase in New York, Eric Griffin is fighting to live out his dream of making it to the NBA.

From a young age, basketball athletes dream of making it to the NBA. They dream of hearing their name being introduced in an NBA game. They dream of draining 3-point shots.

These athletes put in years of hard work in hopes of getting a shot to play alongside the best players in the world. Some of these players will go through anything in order to live their dream.

Eric Griffin is no different.

He had quite the journey during his collegiate years. Griffin played a year at Hiwassee Community College until the college lost its accreditation. After his short stay at the junior college, the 6’9″ forward transferred to Garden City Community College (GCCC).

Even though Griffin spent a year at GCCC, he continued his collegiate journey at Campbell. He averaged 15.7 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 30.3 minutes per game and was named to the All-Big South Conference First Team in his final season.

That doesn’t included the 134 shots he blocked during his two years at Campbell, which is the third most in the school’s history.

Even though his collegiate career was a journey in itself, Griffin was set to embark on a new journey: his professional career. After not getting drafted, he joined the Los Angeles Lakers for Summer League in 2012.

After the Summer League finished, the Campbell product signed with the Fileni BPA Jesi of the Serie A2 Basket in Italy. That was his first of five international teams he played for. The forward went onto play for Leones de Ponce in Puerto Rico, Guaros de Lara in Venezuela, Indios de San Francisco de Macorís in the Dominican Republic, and Al-Nasr Dubai SC in Dubai.

While his early basketball career took him around the world, Eric Griffin returned home; this time, it was to the D-League. He came out with a bang when the Texas Legends kicked off the 2014-15 season.

He created many highlights in the NBADL, which included numerous explosive dunks.

He scored 20 or more points in the team’s first four games, as the Legends went 3-1 during that stretch. In his lone season in the D-League, he averaged 19.0 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 35.2 minutes per game.

Even though Griffin had a solid season with the Legends, which included being a D-League All-Star, he didn’t get a call-up as he thought he would.

“I was surprised,” Griffin told Daily Knicks. “I was a bit mad, but I still had to fight everyday and grind everyday so if they’ve seen me, maybe they would have called me up, so just got to fight each and everyday.”

11 days after recording a double-double (32 points and 10 rebounds), blocking five shots and shooting fifty percent from downtown in his final NBADL game, he signed with Leones de Ponce for the remainder of the 2015 season.

After finishing the 2015 season in Puerto Rico, Griffin returned to the states for Summer League. He played with the Los Angeles Clippers for the Orlando Summer League and was a part of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ roster for the Las Vegas Summer League.

After Summer League concluded, he signed with the Detroit Pistons. Even though Griffin was waived nine days after signing with the team, Stan Van Gundy had positive words to say about the forward.

“He said he liked me a lot,” Griffin said of Van Gundy (h/t Fox Sports). “He said, ‘You’re a good kid, and you can make it in this league.'”

Not only was he close to making the Miami Heat’s roster in 2013, but the positive words he received from Van Gundy reassured his notion that he can make an NBA roster.

“Absolutely,” Griffin said. “If I just say keep God first and stay focused on my dream, I’ll make it in no time.”

Griffin’s journey continued. His next step was the UAE basketball club, where he played for Al-Nasr Dubai SC.

Then things went downhill.

In April of 2016, Eric Griffin had an arrest warrant out for him. Not long after, Griffin was arrested and charged with attempted murder — a crime that he didn’t commit. As Fox Sports reported, it was a difficult time for the Orlando native.

When he was in jail, he recalled the times where he would question himself about the incident.

“I was in there like, ‘Damn, did I really do it?'” Griffin said in an article with Fox Sports. “I knew I hadn’t done it, but it made me wonder.”

After the incident report didn’t match—Griffin is 6’9″ and the assailants were 6’2″ and under 6’0″—the judge set a $15,000 bond at the request of the state.

There was evidence that Griffin was at his home at the time of the incident; security time stamps from the video surveillance showed that he was. Even though he was released, this tragic event still follows him.

But he isn’t letting it hold him back. He still maintains the same passion to achieve his life-long goal.

Griffin was invited to the 2016 RBA Showcase in New York. While he has been known for being a 3-and-D player, the 6’9″ forward started to feel more confident with his shots from beyond the arc. Griffin drained back-to-back shots from downtown in one of the games.

“My shot got better,” Griffin said. “[I am] more confident with shooting and dribbling now.”

The NBADL season is around the corner. Will the Campbell product receive an opportunity to play in the D-League next season?

The last time he played in the D-League, he looked impressive. Along with being a D-League All-Star in 2015, he was named to the All-Defensive Second Team.

In the right situation, Griffin wouldn’t mind returning to the D-League.

“I would rather, if the situation is right with the D-League, I’ll go back to the D-League. But the situation [has] got to be right.”

The NBADL could be the right place for the former D-League All-Star. The D-League gives players an opportunity to prove their value.

If Griffin could match the production he had during his lone season in the NBADL, he could potentially receive a call-up during the 2016-17 season.

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Eric Griffin never lost sight of his dream. Now, he’s poised to live out that dream.