Forty years after leading the basketball program to its first national championship, Darrell Griffith has returned to UofL as a University ambassador. He’s working closely with President Neeli Bendapudi in support of development efforts and an “anti-racism agenda.”
The public announcement coming less than a week after former UofL player Butch Beard sent a letter to Bendapudi requesting that his name being removed from the school’s record books. The news release from UofL states that Griffith’s start date was actually in November. So, obviously, the University was already addressing some of the alleged concerns of Beard.
“Darrell has instant name recognition among the UofL family, the Louisville community and throughout the nation,” Bendapudi said. “More importantly, he has been an outstanding student, dedicated alumnus, successful business leader and mentor to young people here and beyond. He is a shining example of success, and I am so excited he has returned to help share the UofL story.”
“It feels so great to be working again with the University I love,” Griffith said. “I look forward to reconnecting with so many people in the community and working closely with President Bendapudi to continue to tell UofL’s story and to build relationships on campus and throughout the community.”
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My son Steve is four years old, my wife is teaching English at Male High School during the summer of 1979. He has accompanied her to school for orientation.
Around lunchtime they wind up the gym. Everything isn’t air conditioned in those days so it’s pretty hot in the middle of the summer. Much to their surprise, they find a basketball player in a UofL jersey dribbling around a jumbled row of chairs, working on his foot work.
After a little small talk, the player tosses the ball to Steve, wanting him to take a few shots. The highlight comes when the big guy, 6-foot-5, picks up the little 3-foot-9 boy and raises him above his head so he can dunk the ball in the net. He does it two or three times for good measure.
The player turns out to be Darrell Griffith, preparing for his senior year. Already considered one of the best players in UofL history, known to many fans as a “living legend.” He will become UofL’s all-time leading scorer with 2,333 points in his career, a record that still stands. His number, 35, is retired during ceremonies after the 1980 season.