A Case Of Mistaken Identity Almost Grounded The High Flying Eric Griffin

    Nightmare stories of mistaken identity and shabby or shady police work have been a part of the Black American athletes’ erratic, plagued and powerful history. Whether guilty or innocent, once the court case is underway and the jail bars sit a jury-decision away, the facts of the case are often overlooked and the player becomes a prisoner of the warped social media moment. 

    Eric Griffin, a 6-foot-8 forward with superhuman ups that went undrafted out of Campbell University in 2012, has agreed to a two-way deal with the Utah Jazz. The signing represented a long, tumultuous road for Griffin, who almost became another African-American victim of circumstances and overzealous, racially-biased prosecutors.

    His ordeal is not uncommon, but his outcome is. He was vindicated and exonerated of the attempted murder charges that threw his life and NBA career into limbo. 

    Having that cloud over his head as he tried to gain the trust of an NBA franchise was damn near impossible as his previous summer and training camp stints with the Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks and Detroit Pistons failed to produce anything more than a 2015 D-League All-Star selection.

    Meet Eric Griffin, the NBA Development League’s Highlight Machine

    After turning heads with the Dallas Mavericks during Summer League, Eric Griffin has shown off his freakish athleticism with the Mavs’ NBA Development League affiliate, the Texas Legends, this season. The NBA Development League, the NBA’s official minor league, is now on YouTube, showing over 350 live games on the NBA D-League YouTube Channel and NBADLeague.com.

    With Griffin being proved innocent, hopefully the negative stench that has unjustly followed him around and prevented him from being able to go at his dream full force will disappear and he can start to show the world who he really is, as opposed to the false accusations that ruined his reputation. 

    Griffins ordeal is also a hardcore reminder that the every Black person looks alike theory is still alive, well and applied vigorously to black males of any social setting. Griffin must feel like hes living a sweet dream after the G League was formed, which gave way to the new two-way contracts. 

    Dunks of the Year – Eric Griffin, Campbell

    After only playing high school varsity basketball as a senior, Eric Griffin seemingly came out of nowhere to became a standout player at Campbell University, regularly flying over opponents like this Jordanesque Dunk of the Year nominee vs. NC A&T.

    Just 15 months ago, however, he was living a nightmare. Back in May of 2016, Griffin was arrested on attempted murder charges after he and another man, 23-year-old Daquan Lundy, allegedly fired several rounds at a third individual outside an Orlando, Florida apartment building, as Sam Gardner wrote for Fox Sports:

    “The alleged victim, 24-year-old Trevor Glover, told police he was approached by two black males as he walked from his car to his apartment at approximately 1:19 a.m. on April 27. Glover stated that the larger of the two men fired two shots in his direction, and the other fired one. Griffins arrest warrant lists him at 6-foot-9 and 200 pounds, while Lundy is listed at 5-foot-7 and 185 pounds.

    Glover told police he attempted to flee to the rear of the apartment complex after the initial three shots but fell to the ground as he ran away, skinning his hand. Glover stated that at least one of the men then stood over him and fired four shots at close range, with one shot grazing his forehead. Its unclear based on the incident report which of the two men fired the shot that struck Glover.”

    Griffin maintained his innocence, but remained locked up for six days and he says he almost went “psycho” in the process. Hed be released on bond, and vindicated within two months, after defense attorney Eric Barker presented what he believed to be conclusive proof of Griffins alibi, according to Gardner:

    In addition to the security alarm timestamps, the video footage of Griffin inside his home at the time of the shooting and evidence that Griffin had returned the rental car supposedly spotted at the scene earlier that day, Barker also argued that the men described in Glovers initial statement to police could not have been Griffin and Lundy.

    2015 NBA D-League Dunk Contest Preview: Eric Griffin Mix

    Introducing 2015 NBA D-League dunk contest participant Eric Griffin, a forward for the Texas Legends who’s also turned heads during NBA Summer League action. The NBA Development League, the NBA’s official minor league, is now on YouTube, showing over 400 live games on the NBA D-League YouTube Channel and NBADLeague.com.

    According to arrest records, Griffin is 6-foot-9 and Lundy is 5-foot-7, a 14-inch height difference that doesnt match up with the incident report.

    The victim is 6-foot, Barker said. So if youre saying the taller guy is 6-foot-2, then youre saying that (the shooter) is about the same height, maybe a little taller. And in court, you can tell the judge, Hey, my guy is 6-9, and it sounds tall, but when the judge says, Hey, can you stand and raise your hand? when he stands up, you can really see it Wow, thats a tall dude. []

    I think its human nature, when you read about something bad in the news, that you just believe it, Barker said. Theres that automatic judgment when you hear it, so I dont think theres too many people who would question, I wonder if Eric Griffin is guilty or innocent? I think they just assume, Oh man, thats too bad. Another person with talent throwing their life away.

     After earning All-star honors in the Israeli Premier League with Hapoel Gilboa Galil last season, Griffin is a couple of strong performances away from getting to the NBA, turning a stereotypical story of tragedy into one filled with hope, redemption and unsuppressed promise. 

    JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.