Jeff Griffin of the Utah Wheelin’ Jazz was named the Most Valuable Player of the NBA Wheelchair All-Star Game over the weekend in New Orleans.
Griffin, who lives in West Jordan, helped lead the Western Conference All-Stars to a 49-38 victory over the East.
It was the fourth time in his wheelchair basketball career that Griffin has been named the game’s MVP. He also won the award in 2008, 2011 and 2012.
"I’m honored," Griffin told reporters at All-Star Weekend. "But they really can’t give the MVP to one person. I wish they could give it to the whole team [because] it takes somebody to pass the ball in, bring the ball up the court and somebody to pass the ball to me."
Griffin has been unable to walk for 18 years, after falling more than 40 feet while painting a barn. He ruptured the L1 vertebrae in his spine and broke his back in three places.
Former Utah Jazz coach, general manager and team president Frank Layden has been working with Griffin to raise awareness about his story and the sport of wheelchair basketball. Layden is the narrator of an audio book, "Doin’ Hard Work," about Griffin and his efforts with the Wheelin’ Jazz.
Writer-director Randall Wade produced the audio book, along with Layden, to help educate people about severely injured Americans like Griffin.
The audio book takes a behind-the-scenes look at a typical wheelchair tournament for Griffin and his teammates, when they drove from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles. The team left on Friday, slept at a campground to save money, played Saturday and Sunday and returned home in time for work Monday morning.
The cost of the audio book is $10. It is available at doinhardwork.com. Proceeds benefit Griffin and the Just Don’t Quit Adaptive Sports program, which provides equipment, uniforms and registration fees for sports camps for wheelchair athletes.
— Steve Luhm
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