ey knew, after all, that everyone might not like them. Then again, doesn’t every parent tell their children that?
Tommy and Gail Griffin taught their sons universal lessons. Hard work. Kindness. Generosity. They were part of Gail’s homeschool teaching. They were part of Tommy’s basketball coaching.
But they were also their way of life.
Tommy ran a trophy business out of the family’s garage, and after a long day at school, he worked into the wee hours of the morning.
Gail tutored boys who played for Tommy during the glory days at John Marshall if they needed a little extra help on their school work.
The Griffins didn’t have a lot of money to give, but they helped where they could. If someone needed a ride home, they would tell them to hop in. If someone lived in a single-parent home, they would drop off leftovers from team meals.
"It’s stuff that nobody would ever see besides us,” Blake said.
The impression was lasting.
Learning from the best
Earlier this season as Tommy and Gail Griffin sat in their usual Lloyd Noble Center seats a few rows behind the Sooner bench, one stranger after another approached. All of them told the Griffins how great their sons were, not as basketball players but as people.
They had stories about Taylor and Blake signing autographs, taking pictures and taking time with their fans, especially the young ones.
That makes Tommy and Gail proudest.
Then again, they taught Taylor and Blake about that, about being inclusive, about treating everyone the way you’d want to be treated.
Sure, being bi-racial hasn’t always been easy. Not for Tommy and Gail. Not for Taylor and Blake.
The Griffin brothers realized that they were different than most kids, that not everybody’s parents were different races. But it was never was an issue for them, though it has made for some interesting conversations.
"Is it true,” someone once asked Blake, "your dad adopted you guys when you were kids?”
"What?” he said.
"Somebody was telling me that.”
"That couldn’t be further from the truth.”
Some folks aren’t even that subtle.
"Man,” Blake once overheard someone say, "those guys can get up for white dudes.”
The Griffin brothers chuckle and smile about those stories. They aren’t uncomfortable about it because their parents aren’t uncomfortable about it.
Just another lesson learned growing up Griffin.
Taylor and Blake believe their upbringing made them not only the players but also the people that they are today. That isn’t because of what their parents are as an interracial couple, but rather who
they are as human beings.
"It’s the best of both worlds, I guess,” Blake said.