HOUSTON – Former Minnesota Timberwolves forward Eddie Griffin died last week when his sport utility vehicle collided with a freight train in a fiery crash in Houston, 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 and former seventh overall draft pick had battled alcohol problems since coming out of Seton Hall. He was suspended by the NBA for five games in January for violating the anti-drug program.
Houston police said in a report that 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 signed with the Wolves as a free agent before the 2004 season, and showed enough promise as a shot-blocker and rebounder to be signed to an extension.
But he was waived in March after appearing in just 13 games for the Wolves this season.