ORLANDO — It’s the first day of NBA Summer League, and Eric Griffin shakes his head incredulously, staring intently at his flawless white Nikes for what feels like an entire run of a shot clock. He’s just been asked why he’s here, at lunch on a veranda overlooking a golf course near downtown, when he should be three miles up Interstate 4, on the court at Amway Center.
At 6-foot-9 with a 7-foot wingspan, the lanky Griffin certainly looks the part of a prototypical forward, and for the past four seasons he’s not only been a Summer League fixture but a regular in training camp for some of the best teams in the league. And by all accounts, Griffin would have been traveling that same path once again over the coming weeks and months, as he made yet another push to stick in the NBA.
But then he was accused of an attempted murder he didn’t commit, and from the moment officers took him into custody at a Central Florida suit store on the eve of his best friend’s funeral, Griffin knew his life, both on the court and off, would never be the same.
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"I am a victim, wrongfully accused of something I didn’t do," Griffin, dressed in a white T-shirt and baggy blue basketball shorts, said between bites of Texas-style chili, carefully picking around the chunks of red onion. "I’m moving on now, but I’ll never be able to get away from it. Once it’s out there, it’s there forever."
Griffin dunks as Dwyane Wade looks on during a scrimmage with the Miami Heat in October 2013. (Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
An incredible leaper, Griffin got his first taste of attention at Campbell University, where the All-Big South selection became known for rim protection and highlight-reel dunks. And for a half-decade, as his wiry frame filled out to 200 pounds and his footwork around the rim and his suspect jump shot improved, Griffin had inched closer and closer to living his NBA dream.
In 2012, after going undrafted, Griffin spent the summer with the Los Angeles Lakers. The following year, on the heels of the Heat’s second championship of the Big Three era, Griffin played for Miami, then joined LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in training camp. Griffin performed well and memorably leaped over Mason Plumlee during a preseason game at Barclays Center. Ultimately, Griffin was the team’s final cut, as Miami opted to bring Michael Beasley and Roger Mason, Jr., along for the ride instead.
By 2014, Griffin’s 11.4 points per game during Summer League play had earned him a multi-year contract offer from the Dallas Mavericks. His impression after signing the unguaranteed deal was that he’d spend the year being shuffled back and forth between Dallas and the team’s D-League affiliate in Frisco. Instead, he spent the entire season with the Texas Legends, where he became a D-League All-Star and was named to the all-league third team and all-defensive second team.
"I thought it would be enough, but it wasn’t, and I was real frustrated at that," said Griffin, who averaged 19 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in 49 games. "They sent me down to get better, and I’m getting better each and every day, but they say, ‘No, you need more rebounds.’ Then it’s, ‘You’re not playing enough D, getting enough steals and blocks.’ I felt like there was nothing I could do."
Last year was arguably Griffin’s best chance to stick on an NBA roster. After spending time with both the L.A. Clippers and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Orlando and Vegas Summer Leagues, respectively, Griffin latched on with the Detroit Pistons for training camp. He was subsequently cut, but Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy told Griffin he was impressed with the swingman’s effort.
"He said he liked me a lot," Griffin said of Van Gundy. "He said, ‘You’re a good kid, and you can make it in this league.’"
Motivated by Van Gundy’s parting message, Griffin spent last season playing in Dubai — one of several international stops during a career that also includes stints in Italy, Puerto Rico and Venezuela — and seemingly was primed to make another run at his ultimate goal of reaching the NBA this summer. Griffin’s agent, Tod Seidel, said the 26-year-old had multiple Summer League offers in hand when he played his final game in Dubai on April 16.
But by April 29, that all changed. As it turns out, attempted murder charges — even those that are ultimately dropped — have a way of scaring off teams.
Here’s what is known about the arrest that, at least for now, has dashed Griffin’s hopes of playing in the NBA:
At 1:19 a.m. on April 27, 24-year-old Treavor Glover pulled into the parking lot at the Bala Sands apartment complex, about nine miles west of downtown Orlando. According to a statement provided to police at Orlando Regional Medical Center that night, Glover exited his car outside his building and was walking toward his apartment when he noticed two armed black men running toward him.
Glover told police that the larger of the two men, who he estimated to be 6-foot-2, fired two shots in his direction, while the other assailant, estimated by Glover to be "under 6 feet tall," fired one round. After the initial shots, Glover ran in the opposite direction of the men but lost his footing and fell to the ground.
Glover then stated that, as he rolled over on the concrete, "at least one of the men" stood over him and fired four rounds at close range. One of the bullets grazed Glover’s forehead. He was not seriously hurt.
According to the incident report, the two men then ran back to a dark gray or charcoal-colored sedan — a car later identified by an independent witness, who did not see the actual shooting, as a Dodge Charger — and drove away.
Glover, who said he did not believe he’d been followed into the complex, stated that "he has never met or (seen) either of the men who attacked him" and that they did not attempt to rob him during the attack. Glover also told police that he believed the shooting could be related to the April 16 murder of Gino Nicolas, a 24-year-old local youth leader killed in a drive-by shooting.
Griffin played college ball at Campbell University from 2010-2012 and was All-Big South Conference in his senior season. (Charles Slate/Myrtle Beach Sun-News/MCT via Getty Images)
Glover’s girlfriend, 22-year-old Angel Nicolas, is the sister of Gino Nicolas, and according to the police report Glover indicated that "there is a rumor going around among Gino’s friends that Treavor is friends with the shooter."
Approximately 12 hours later, at 1:30 p.m. on April 27, Glover contacted detectives with more information about the incident. At that time, Glover named Griffin as the suspect who shot at him four times from close range and provided a social media account for a second suspect, 23-year-old DaQuan Lundy, Griffin’s cousin.
At 4 p.m., Glover met with detective Anthony Ventriere at the Orange County Sheriff’s Department to view two separate photo lineups. Upon viewing the lineups, Glover positively identified both Griffin and Lundy.
When asked by Ventriere how he remembered the men, Glover indicated that he "had a clear, unobstructed view of both suspects and recognized them from prior encounters." Specifically, Glover stated that, while outside Vain Nightclub on April 24, he witnessed Griffin drive by in a dark-colored Dodge Charger, which he believed to be a rental.
Further, Glover indicated that Griffin sent two text messages to Angel Nicolas on April 25 suggesting that Griffin had seen Glover at the club. According to police, one of the messages read, "I seen Yoo BF n day party (expletive) ant even look me n my EYES" andthe second stated, "Gino is My (expletive)."
Based on this evidence, Ventriere and detective Robert Bell concluded that there was probable cause to charge Griffin with attempted first-degree murder with a firearm, and on April 29 Griffin was taken into custody.
Griffin (left) with Gino Nicolas, whose murder in April police say was the motive for the shooting for which Griffin was wrongfully arrested. (Courtesy the Eric Griffin family)
It was less than two hours before his final game in Dubai when Griffin got a call from his mother, Alma Bracy. The news shook him to his core: His friend, Gino Nicolas, had been shot to death back home in Orlando. At the time, Griffin could have never imagined how an event almost 8,000 miles away would change his own life in the weeks to come.
Griffin said that he and Nicolas had been close friends since childhood, and Bracy recalled the pair being inseparable, often staying the night at each other’s houses. Bracy said she considered not telling Griffin about Nicolas’ death until after the game was over but ultimately felt that he needed to know as soon as possible.
"I knew he wouldn’t hardly be able to concentrate, and I really didn’t want him to be upset," an emotional Bracy said in a recent interview. "But it was, you know, somebody he grew up with like a brother."
"You don’t ever expect your best friend to die in a drive-by shooting," Griffin added of the conversation with his mother that night. "It’s something you can’t even imagine. I started crying when I heard it."
Shortly after Griffin received the news, his club, Al Nasr, lost its playoff game to Ohud Medina, the defending Saudi Premier League champion, ending Al Nasr’s season. The next day, Griffin made plans to return home for Nicolas’ funeral, scheduled for April 30. He arrived in Florida a few days after that and planned to spend time in Miami with his aunt but decided to stay in Orlando instead.
Griffin said that over the course of the weekend of April 23 and 24, he spoke with Angel Nicolas regarding her brother’s death. He acknowledged the text messages Nicolas and Glover provided to police, but said their interaction was not threatening in nature.
According to Griffin, the closest thing to a confrontation came when Nicolas said she didn’t want Lundy and a number of other friends present at the time of Nicolas’ death to come to the funeral, at which Griffin was supposed to be a pallbearer. Griffin said Nicolas thought her brother’s friends knew who killed Gino, and from there the conversation escalated into an argument about what Glover knew about Gino’s killer.
Griffin (No. 1) stood out in high school, as seen here in the team photo. (Courtesy the Eric Griffin family)
"I was trying to tell her, ‘Have you ever been shot at?’ and she said no," Griffin said. "So I said, ‘How would you feel if you got shot at and you don’t know who did it?’ I was telling her, (police) don’t know. They’ve got a clue, but they don’t know for sure. But she still said they can’t come to the funeral, only I can come, and I told her, ‘That ain’t right, y’all can’t do that.’
"We all was friends, we all was close, we all grew up together," Griffin continued. "I was just being honest with her, and I was like, ‘T-Glover knows the shooters. He knows who did it.’ And after that she hung up the phone."
It was at that point, Griffin said, that the two began texting.
"I was like, ‘You know, Gino, that’s my guy, and your boyfriend knows who did it,’" said Griffin, who told FOX Sports he does not know Lavon Shinn and Christopher Miller, the two men later charged in the initial shooting, which also saw a 46-year-old woman named Tanya Skeen killed. "I said, ‘He hangs with the killers, they hang together. They’re cool with each other.’"
Griffin said that was the last time he talked to Nicolas prior to his arrest on the evening of the 29th.
"It wasn’t like, ‘Yeah, I’m going to kill your boyfriend,’" Griffin said. "It was nothing like that. I just said, ‘Your boyfriend knows the killers, so don’t ask us.’ He was on Facebook saying, like, ‘Yeah, I know who did it,’ but not saying their names.
"I wish I never said it, but I was just being honest with her because (my friends) really don’t know who did it," Griffin added, in retrospect, of his remarks to Nicolas. "If you’re being shot at, you’re not going to look and see who’s shooting at you. You’re trying to get out the way. So I was just trying to tell her they don’t know, and that they should be able to come (to the funeral)."
Attempts by FOX Sports to reach Angel Nicolas were unsuccessful, and when reached by phone last week, Glover declined comment.
Griffin’s mug shot
The morning of April 26, Griffin returned the silver Dodge Charger he’d been driving since he arrived in Orlando and took an Uber back to his mom’s house. He spent the afternoon house hunting — he said he’s looking to buy a home in the area — and that evening, he talked with Lundy about going out that night, possibly to Cleo’s, a gentlemen’s club near downtown.
Griffin decided to stay in, however, after a long conversation with his mom, a wide-ranging talk that covered Griffin’s career and his thoughts about Nicolas’ death, among other topics.
"She was like, ‘I don’t want you mixed with none of this,’ stuff like that," Griffin said. "You know, ‘You need to lay low till you go to the funeral, then go back.’ She didn’t want me getting into anything, so I decided I’d just chill. This was probably 8 or 9 that night."
Bracy said the conversation came about because she was concerned for her son’s safety.
"You never know what’s going to happen because all these people were friends and you never know who’s going to, like, still be shooting, you know?" she said. "He’s not that type of person, but sometimes it’s just the people you hang around. I even talked to a couple of his cousins and told them to just chill and don’t get in any trouble. Because Gino wasn’t about fighting and stuff like that."
Bracy said it’s not uncommon for her to have serious talks with Griffin when he’s home, due to the attention he receives as a professional basketball player. Nicolas’ recent murder only served to ratchet up her fears.
"I’ve always been like that with him," Bracy said. "I tell him when he comes into town, that’s what starts news. So I tell him to keep things at a distance because I can see him becoming a star, I can see his future. I tell him, ‘Don’t go here, don’t go there.’ So we had a long conversation that night, and I thank God that we did."
After Griffin and his mom talked, Griffin’s older brother, Damien King, stopped by the house for a visit, and Griffin went out to the garage with his brother and stepfather, Michael Jessie. After the three caught up, King left and Jessie and Bracy went to bed. On the way to the bedroom, Bracy confirmed with Griffin that he wasn’t planning on leaving, and at about 11 p.m. she set the alarm.
Just a few weeks earlier, Bracy had gotten a new home security system installed, replacing her old ADT set-up with a high-tech Vivint system that included motion-detection cameras. At 12:52 a.m., movement triggered the camera in the front room, which captured an image of Griffin walking through a hallway wearing a white tank top and his boxers.
By 1:19 a.m., Griffin said he was watching TV in bed, roughly five miles from the Bala Sands apartment complex, and according to records provided by Vivint, no one entered or exited the house until just before 6 the following morning, when Jessie left for work.
Eric Griffin and his biological dad, Ray Martin. (Courtesy the Eric Griffin family)
A few hours after his stepdad left the house, Griffin said he received a text from Angel Nicolas saying she needed to talk to him. Griffin was still angry at Nicolas after their conversation a few days earlier, so he ignored the message, but a short time later another friend filled him in on what had happened to Glover the night before.
"Somebody was telling me, ‘Yo, T-Glover got shot,’ and I was like, ‘Whoa,’" Griffin said. "But it was also kind of like, ‘OK, whatever, so?’ I don’t know him like that, and he ain’t cool with me. But then they were like, ‘They said you had something to do with it.’ I guess (Angel) already had it in her mind, that ‘Eric did this.’"
At the time, Griffin was unaware that he was an actual suspect and said he had no contact with police on April 28. On the 29th, however, he became suspicious after receiving several calls from blocked numbers.
"I had calls from like five unknown people, but I thought it was my dad, because he’s locked up," Griffin said of his biological father, Ray Martin. "But I didn’t even want to talk to him, so I kept ignoring it. Then the one time I did pick up, it was like, ‘Hello? Hello? Hello?,’ and they didn’t say anything so I hung up."
Later that day, Griffin went out with a cousin to Suit City, a local clothing store, to buy a suit to wear at Nicolas’ funeral the next day. Griffin claimed he’d been followed throughout the day by several unmarked police vehicles, and within "three or four" minutes of Griffin arriving at Suit City, officers had entered the store to take him into custody.
"They came in like, boom, ‘Eric Griffin, Eric Griffin, where you at?’" Griffin recalled. "They didn’t know who I was, but I was just like, ‘What’s up? I’m right here,’ put my hands up, stuff like that. Even then I was like, ‘What happened?’ because I didn’t know. Then they took me down to the station and interrogated me."
Once at police headquarters, Griffin said he was placed in a room where he waited alone for an hour. At that point, detectives Ventriere and Bell began pressing him about his whereabouts the night Glover was shot.
"They asked, ‘Where were you?’ and I said, ‘I was at home,’" Griffin said. "I gave them my phone, I thought everything added up. They called my momma, and she was like, ‘No, he was at home, we got cameras.’ She told them I was about to go to the club and she told me to stay home. She said I was there.
"I knew I didn’t do nothing, but they were like, ‘DaQuan told us you were the one, so now you’ve got to tell us,’" Griffin continued. "But I was just like, ‘I don’t know what DaQuan’s got going on, but I wasn’t with him that night. I don’t know nothing about that.’"
Griffin said the interview went on for three to four hours.
"They were like, ‘We know you killed him,’ then one of the detectives, he was like, ‘So why didn’t you kill him?’ and I looked at him like, ‘Say it again?’" Griffin said. "He said, ‘No, I ask the questions,’ and I looked at the other detective, and I said, ‘Did you hear what this man just told me?’"
When reached by FOX Sports, Orange County Sheriff’s spokesman Jeff Williamson declined to answer specific questions regarding the department’s investigation of Griffin, but in an email, Ventriere stated that officers "effected the arrest of Eric Griffin based upon the best investigative details we had at the time."
Ventriere also said that he had no contact with Griffin after his arrest and said questions regarding Griffin’s alibi should be directed to the state attorney, "since they took the lead in investigating those claims."
For his part, Griffin said the scene in the interrogation room reminded him of something out of the true crime show "The First 48" and stated that he stopped answering questions after detectives asked him why he didn’t just kill Glover at the apartment complex.
"They said, ‘They’re fixing to charge you if you don’t talk,’ and I said, ‘Charge me for what? I didn’t do nothing. Everything checks out,’" Griffin said. "They were like, ‘We see you play basketball, now that’s over with. You’re not going to play basketball anymore,’ trying to get me to tell. And I put my head down and kept saying, ‘Man, I didn’t do nothing.’
"It was like they decided going in, ‘(Expletive) him, I’m going to lock him up.’"
A short time later, that’s exactly what they did.
Griffin smiles during a game with the D-League’s Texas Legends in 2015. (David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
At 11:20 p.m. on April 29, Griffin was placed under arrest, placed in a cop car alongside Lundy and taken to the Orange County Jail.
"He’s on probation, and he’s telling me, ‘Man, we straight. God’s got us,’" Griffin said of his conversation with Lundy in the cruiser. "I told him I knew, but I’d never done this before. It was just, ‘What the (expletive)? What the (expletive)? What the (expletive)? I didn’t do (expletive). Damn.’
"I asked (Lundy), ‘How long do you think we’re going to have to sit for?’ and he said, maybe for a year or two," Griffin continued. "I couldn’t believe it. I said, ‘Man, I ain’t sitting for a (expletive) year.’ I mean, I’m back there losing it."
News of his arrest brought about a similar response from Griffin’s mother.
"I lost my mind," Bracy said of the 1 a.m. phone call in which she learned Griffin had been arrested following the interrogation. "I told him to call me again when he knew what was going on, and then I asked him, ‘You didn’t do nothing, did you?’ He said no. I told him OK, and that gave me hope.
"But when I got off the phone, all I could say was, ‘Why? Why? Why?’" she continued. "I was just crying. I didn’t want him to know that, but I couldn’t function."
Griffin meets fans during a trip with the Dallas Mavericks in China in 2014. (VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
The next morning brought more bad news for Griffin, when a judge determined that he would be held without bond, despite having no previous criminal record. Then, when Griffin returned to his cell, the reality of incarceration began to set in.
"They put me in a bunk, six people, and I’m looking, like, ‘What do I do? How do I make this bed? What am I doing?’" Griffin said. "I just had to do what other people were doing, but it was crazy. That ain’t a place you want to be.
"That (expletive) was hell," Griffin continued. "You go in there, shackled up, and people are talking, ‘Yo, you play basketball? Why you here?’ It’s embarrassing. You can’t even take a shower, they only give you two pairs of drawers. I’m new to this, so I’m like, ‘Who’s going to wash my drawers?’ not knowing I was (washing) my own."
Meanwhile, as her son adjusted to life behind bars, Bracy called local defense attorney Eric Barker and asked him to take Griffin’s case.
"It’s so tough, especially for a guy like Eric who’s not used to being in jail," Barker told FOX Sports. "Unfortunately, some of my clients are kind of used to it, so a day here, a week there is not out of their realm of how they normally live, but for a guy like Eric — imagine being thrown in jail for a week for something you didn’t do.
"Your stomach is upset, you’re not used to your surroundings, now you’re being ordered around by people — when you can wake up, when to go to the bathroom, all sorts of stuff," he continued. "It’s demeaning and you’re sitting there knowing, thinking, ‘I didn’t do anything wrong and I’ve got proof of it, but no one is listening to me.’"
Barker was able to get an emergency bond hearing scheduled for May 5, a quick turnaround by most standards, but even so, that left Griffin with six nights in jail before he had any chance of returning home. During that time, he was also moved into protective custody, which means he spent virtually all his time in a cell by himself, rather than in the general population.
In a statement provided to FOX Sports, Orange County Jail spokeswoman Tracy Zampaglione said that Griffin was moved into protective custody housing on May 2 "based on the high-profile nature of his case."
"When inmates are moved to PC housing, they are initially placed in a pending status while a thorough review of the inmate’s circumstances is conducted," Zampaglione’s statement read. "This review includes review of media coverage in high-profile cases such as this one and a review of various factors to determine if the inmate needs to remain in PC housing."
Zampaglione said that review was still ongoing by the time Griffin’s bond hearing was held. She declined to answer questions regarding why Griffin’s status was changed or whether there had been any physical confrontations or threats that necessitated such a move.
In the meantime, Griffin says he lost a significant amount of weight and even began to question his own innocence.
"Being locked up 23 hours (a day), I wouldn’t wish that on anybody," Griffin said. "It was like they wanted to make me tell on myself. It’s there to make you give in by putting you down, locking you up.
"I was in there like, ‘Damn, did I really do it?’" he added. "The detectives told me they knew I did it, so now I’m second-guessing. They said they had my fingerprints, they’ve got my gun, they’ve got everything. I knew I hadn’t done it, but it made me wonder.
"I’m in there talking to myself. ‘Did I really shoot that man? I shot him, didn’t I?’" Griffin said. "But then I’m like, ‘Nah, you didn’t shoot him, bro. You were at home. We’ve got you on camera.’ I’m just in there having full conversations with myself, really going psycho. ‘Did you do that? Why did you do it? I don’t know, man, maybe I did it. No, don’t be crazy, you’re going to be all right.’ "
One of the few things that kept him sane, Griffin said, was his mother’s recommendation that he study the Bible, particularly Psalm 35, which reads in part, "Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me."
Griffin and his family. (Courtesy the Eric Griffin family)
When Griffin’s bond hearing was finally held, Barker presented what he believed to be conclusive proof of Griffin’s alibi.
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 Glover’s initial statement to police could not have been Griffin and Lundy.
According to arrest records, Griffin is 6-foot-9 and Lundy is 5-foot-7, a 14-inch height difference that doesn’t match up with the incident report.
"The victim is 6-foot," Barker said. "So if you’re saying the taller guy is 6-foot-2, then you’re 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, that’s a tall dude.’"
The state had requested that the judge consider granting bond and did little to argue against it during the hearing. Ultimately the judge set bond at $15,000 with the conditions that Griffin could not have contact with the victim, could not return to the scene of the offense and had to surrender his passport. Griffin was released later that day, but his battle was just beginning.
Part of the problem, Barker said, is that Griffin had already been judged in the court of public opinion.
"I think it’s human nature, when you read about something bad in the news, that you just believe it," Barker said. "There’s that automatic judgment when you hear it, so I don’t think there’s too many people who would question, ‘I wonder if Eric Griffin is guilty or innocent?’ I think they just assume, ‘Oh man, that’s too bad. Another person with talent throwing their life away.’"
Even so, a tarnished reputation couldn’t put a damper on the news that came on June 22: The state had verified the information from the alarm company and was going to drop Griffin’s charges.
Griffin with the Mavericks, during a Summer League game against the Timberwolves in 2014. (Jack Arent/NBAE via Getty Images)
"We believe the victim gave a wrong description," Angela Starke, a spokeswoman for the state attorney’s ninth judicial circuit, said in a statement provided to FOX Sports. "He did not show up for the bond hearings, and once we talked with him about dropping the case due to lack of evidence he told us he had some doubts about the identities."
According to Starke’s statement, the state attorney received the case April 28, and it was assigned to an attorney May 4. The state received the case packet on May 20 and received what was described as "additional information" on May 23.
"We also learned that Griffin had an alibi," the statement continued. "His alarm system was on the night of the shooting until the following morning. A motion detector picked him up as movement in a hallway. We first had to review and verify the timestamps on the video."
Barker said the nearly eight-week span between Griffin’s arrest and eventual exoneration was not unusual. He said he first called Bracy with the news, then told Griffin he’d been cleared.
"I could see the smile on his face through the phone," Barker said of Griffin. "When I called him he was obviously very happy, very excited, thanked me, all that kind of stuff. It’s good delivering good news."
"I was so happy, so happy, so happy," Bracy added of her son’s vindication. "Lord, thank you, thank you, thank you. People can lie on you and get you in so much trouble, and it’s scary. Now I always keep a hand on him — ‘Let me know where you’re going.’ "
Just 17 months ago, Griffin competed in the D-League All-Star Game, scoring four points. (Melanie Fidler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Unfortunately, there’s not an easy answer to where Griffin is going next, especially when it comes to his basketball career.
Once thought to be an NBA prospect, Griffin is now untouchable in the eyes of most NBA teams, despite being cleared of the crime, and his luck hasn’t been much better abroad.
While his case was being investigated, Griffin lost a "substantial" offer to join a team in the Philippines, according to his agent, Seidel, and in the weeks since Griffin’s case was thrown out interest in him, both globally and abroad, has been lukewarm, at best.
"It just goes to show you that teams, they don’t want to mess with it," Seidel said. "It becomes toxic. In the basketball world, absolutely everybody knows. When I say everybody, I mean any market that I put his name out, they know. That goes from China to Italy, and it’s difficult to overcome that, even though it’s been proven that he had absolutely nothing to do with it."
Part of the problem, Seidel said, is a lack of coverage of his exoneration, and as Griffin is quickly finding out, the internet is forever.
"If you Google his name, you come up on some pretty horrific things, and the first thing that you see when you Google his name is the mugshot," Seidel said. "Then you see all kinds of language like ‘attempted murder,’ and that’s not exactly a shoplifting offense. So when teams see that, they immediately blanch, and it’s a problem.
"There are teams that my partner and I have a closer relationship with, and you can talk to them, but you can still get into a scenario where, if you’re trying to decide between two players, the other guy may just be easier," Seidel continued. "They don’t know Eric like I know Eric, and maybe in the back of their mind they still think that where there’s smoke there’s fire."
Seidel said he can’t rule out the possibility that Griffin will be invited to an NBA camp later this summer, but he said such an offer will be "incredibly difficult" to obtain. According to Seidel, "this has taken us from a high probability to a very low probability" of Griffin playing in the NBA or D-League this year, but still, Seidel expects that Griffin will eventually get an offer to play somewhere.
"He’ll be playing," Seidel said. "He’s too talented not to play, and eventually we’ll find something for him. But will it be the step that he deserves to take? That has yet to be seen."
There’s some comfort in that, to be sure, but even if it takes longer than he ever hoped or expected to get there, Griffin says he won’t give up on his dream of playing in the NBA.
"Teams don’t like that stuff," Griffin said of his arrest. "They’re basically going to look at me like, if they gave me all this money, then why am I hanging with these people? Why would your name even come up in that? They’re not going to invest in that guy. So I might be free, but I’m not.
"I still have hope, though," he continued. "I’ll never lose faith, and I know I’m going to grind if they give me a chance."
"Whenever you’re from America, you want to play in America," Bracy added of her son’s future. "Everybody wants to be Shaquille, everybody wants to be Michael Jordan. That’s the dream. That’s the vision. And everything has something to get over. Now he’s just got to get over this, prove himself again and stay out of harm’s way.