by Leslie Fobbs
Here on The Hackschool Blog, we’ll be highlighting successful homeschoolers weekly. The homeschoolers featured will be famous athletes, artists, performers, politicians and even some regular, everyday folks like Noah Kutz. This week’s feature is NBA star Blake Griffin and older brother Taylor Griffin.
I have to admit that before writing this post I had only heard of Blake and didn’t know much about him. I didn’t even know he had a brother that played basketball, let alone did I know they were homeschooled. As I learned more about the two powerhouses though I gained respect for their skill, and inspiration from their homeschooling foundation that has made them who they are.
Many people mistake the two as twins, but that is incorrect. Blake was born in 1989 and his brother Taylor is just three years older. Dad, Tommy Griffin, was a basketball coach who moonlighted making trophies in his garage for a local gym. The gym happened to be owned by the father of a future NFL star (Sam Bradford) and the brothers spent many hours playing basketball there. Their mother, was a public school teacher which is where she met her husband. He was the basketball coach and she was over the cheerleaders. They made the decision for her to quit and homeschool their sons after Gail had a difficult time leaving them in daycare.
The two would be taught by their mom from 8 am to noon and then be allowed to play in the afternoon. Often they would await their friends getting home from school so they could play basketball in the driveway. Blake was very competitive and took every opportunity he could to challenge his brother, but Taylor usually beat him. They were homeschooled from the time Taylor was in 1st grade until he completed 10th grade.
Back then, it was less likely that homeschool kids could join public school teams, but the boys had an even better reason for enrolling into Oklahoma Christian School. Their dad was the coach! Before they were constantly competing against each other, now they had the opportunity to work together and dominate for Taylor’s last two years of high school. And boy did they dominate! They won two Oklahoma 3A state championships together and Blake went on to gain two more titles after Taylor graduated.
Taylor went on to play for the Oklahoma Sooners while Blake flew from under the radar that summer by playing against Kevin Durant in an AAU league. He finished his high school career with four state titles, many personal awards, and an astonishing record of 106-6. He joined his big brother once again for college ball at Oklahoma and helped the new coach rebuild the program after much controversy.
Blake had a standout year as a freshman, averaging 14.7 points per game. After much speculation that Blake would leave school early to enter the NBA draft, he decided to stay one more year to develop more as a player and to try and help the team achieve a national title. This gives evidence to the type of character that Blake had. He wasn't all about self. They didn’t win a title, but together the brothers helped the team get to the Elite Eight round of the NCAA final playoffs in 2009.
Taylor graduated that year and entered the draft. He was selected by the Phoenix Suns as the 48th pick overall. However, he only lasted a year there and bounced around in the NBA D-League for awhile before ending his professional career in 2016 with a European team.
Blake’s story continued on totally different. He left college that same year as a sophomore and was drafted by the LA Clippers as the No.1 pick overall. He was the most anticipated draftee that year, and unfortunately, he didn’t even make it to the first game of the season. During Blake’s third preseason game he injured his knee which put him out of commission for the rest of the year. He was determined not to let it set him back though.
Blake came back strong the next year and lived up to the reason he was picked above all others. In his first game of the 2010-11 season, he managed 20 points and 14 rebounds. Not bad at all for a rookie! As a matter of fact, Blake consistently broke records that season. One of them was longest running streak (27games) of double-doubles (stats in two categories with double digits, like points and rebounds) for a rookie since 1968. His highest score for that season was 47 points. No rookie had done that since Allen Iverson in the 1996-97 season. It’s no surprise that Blake was awarded Rookie of the Year because it was very much deserved.
Along with wracking up double-doubles (current total overall is 238), and now the coveted triple-double (7 total), Blake is most known for his ability to dunk. At the end of his rookie season, he was invited to play in the All-Star Game (first rookie since Yao Ming in 2003) and participate in the Sprite Slam Dunk contest. He won by dunking over a Kia (remember his Kia commercials?) complete with a gospel choir singing ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ in the background.
Not everyone appreciates his dunks though, especially the ones that get dunked on. Unfortunately, that makes him a target for lots of elbows, pushes, and arm grabs from opposing players. It could be the reason he has spent a good part of 2015-17 injured. Blake is known for having a great attitude through it all though. He ignores the blatant fouls and pushes to get healthy when injuries set him back.
It’s clear his Christian, homeschooled upbringing has had a lasting impact on his life and character. His father, Tommy, believes “homeschooling helped [both sons] a lot. Because it gave them a foundation.” During those years of homeschooling and being coached by their dad they were taught life lessons of kindness, generosity, and hard work.
Well, it sure has paid off.
Taylor lives a private life with his family and supports his 6’10” baby brother every chance he gets. Blake’s run with the LA Clippers ended this past January when he was traded to the Detroit Pistons, where he continues a remarkable career.