HOUSTON (AP) — Former Minnesota Timberwolves forward Eddie Griffin died last week when his sport utility vehicle collided with a freight train in a fiery crash, the Harris County medical examiner’s office said Tuesday.
Investigators used dental records to identify Griffin, 25, who began his tumultuous pro career with the Houston Rockets in 2001. He was waived by the Timberwolves in March.
The five-year veteran, who was the No. 7 pick in the 2001 NBA draft, had battled alcohol problems since coming out of Seton Hall. Griffin was suspended by the league for five games in January for violating the anti-drug program.
Houston police said in a report that the driver of the SUV ignored a railroad warning and went through a barrier before striking the moving train about 1:30 a.m. Friday.
The driver’s body was badly burned and there was no identification.
Griffin had a series of suspensions, court dates and missed practices during his first two years in the NBA with Houston and New Jersey. He spent time in the Betty Ford Center for alcohol treatment in 2003-04.
Griffin, who played forward and center, signed with the Timberwolves as a free agent before the 2004 season. He showed enough promise as a shot-blocker and rebounder to be signed to an extension, but was waived in March after playing in just 13 games last season with the Wolves.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the Griffin family and friends.