Blake Griffin(notes) is in the midst of one of the more startling rookie seasons in NBA history. He was voted onto the All-Star team by the coaches in his conference. He's the odds-on favorite to win the dunk contest. He's leading an otherwise-woeful Clippers team to a respectable record. And his astonishing and nearly nightly dunking exploits regularly lead off these pages every morning.
This year's All-Star weekend is taking shape in Los Angeles, with Griffin's Clippers acting as the hometown team. And on the eve of his most prominent turn as a pro, Griffin is mourning.
Word of his personal troubles hit Wednesday night, hidden inside an otherwise-routine AP gamer of Wednesday night's Clipper win over the Timberwolves:
When reporters entered the locker room after the game, Griffin was anything but jubilant. His head was in his hands after receiving a phone call and he was sobbing.
Griffin, who is scheduled to compete in the dunk contest on Saturday in Los Angeles, did not speak to reporters after the game, with a team spokesman calling it an unspecified personal issue.
Thursday rolls around, and we find out the unfortunate news.
After Wednesday night's Clippers win over the Timberwolves in Minneapolis, Griffin had his head in his hands in the locker room after receiving a phone call that a friend from home had died.
That friend appears to be Wilson Holloway, his high school teammate and Tulsa football player who died from complications of Hodgkin's lymphoma on Wednesday.
Holloway, who was profiled by ESPN.com in 2008, had been battling cancer since 2008.
Incredibly sad. Clearly, our thoughts are with the Holloway family in their time of loss.
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