Today's Birthday, March 16: NBA star Blake Griffin (1989 - )
Injury-plagued NBA star Blake Griffin recently paid tribute to Kobe Bryant for what the former Lakers legend achieved both on and off the court.
Griffin, a power forward, played against Bryant 16 times throughout his near-decade-long stint with cross-town rivals the Los Angeles Clippers.
"He had his hand in so many different things," Griffin said of the late shooting guard in January.
"Obviously, I looked up to him as a basketball player. But just as a human, watching him transition. The way he exited the game with so much grace was inspirational.
"If you inspire one person, you've lived a positive, successful life... (Kobe) inspired millions."
Griffin was born in Oklahoma City, to Tommy Griffin, who is of Afro-Haitian descent, and Gail.
His father was a basketball centre and a track stand-out at Northwestern Oklahoma State University.
Griffin and his older brother Taylor were home-schooled by their mother from first grade until Taylor was in the tenth grade and Blake was in eighth.
Growing up, Blake and Taylor were said to fight so intensely their mother had to split them apart, with one boy sent to the backyard and the other to the front.
But in 2003, Griffin followed his brother to Oklahoma Christian School, where they played under their father and won two state championships.
And despite the brothers' history of blueing with each other, Blake later chose to follow in Taylor's footsteps once more at college level.
This came after Taylor sold Blake on the idea of joining Oklahoma University - over the likes of more predictable choices in Duke, Kansas or North Carolina - at a family dinner one night in April 2006, therefore giving the pair one more chance to play together.
Griffin was then selected as the first overall pick by the LA Clippers in the 2009 NBA draft.
The six-time NBA All Star played for the Clippers until 2018.
He was in January that year traded along with Willie Reed and Brice Johnson to the Detroit Pistons for Avery Bradley, Tobias Harris and Boban Marjanovic.
Griffin, currently sidelined with knee injury until at least June, has played a total of 622 NBA games..
He has a son and a daughter with former girlfriend Brynn Cameron.