Grant Hill says 2003 staph infection put him close to ‘checking out’


The Clippers announced Sunday that Blake Griffin will need surgery to remove a staph infection in his right elbow. His former teammate, Grant Hill, is all too familiar with staph infections.

Five days after Hill had ankle surgery in March 2003, he developed a high fever and convulsions.

“I was back home recovering, and my body just went in shock,” Hill told The Times on Sunday. “Come to find out, the incision on my ankle opened. Either the incision opened and it caused the staph infection, or the staph infection caused the incision to open. It was as close as I’ve ever been to checking out.”


After undergoing a procedure to use a skin graft from his arm to cover the opened incision on his ankle, Hill had to be hooked up to an intravenous machine three times a day. He was hospitalized for a week and needed intravenous antibiotics for six months. The infection prevented him from returning during the 2003-04 season.

“It was pretty serious for me,” Hill said. “I just think I was dealing with mine longer and I had an open wound, a big open wound that probably came from that whole surgery. It’s been other stories and examples of athletes getting it and them being out for a period and not requiring surgery. I required surgery because I had a hole in my ankle.”

Griffin won’t have a timeline for his return until after his surgery, but the team is saying the best-case scenario is that he’ll be back in 10 days. The worst case is that he won’t be back for six weeks.

The Clippers’ superstar power forward had his elbow drained in New York last week while dealing with bursitis, but the staph infection was a surprise.

“It’s one of those things you don’t know where exactly it came from, but it could be deadly,” Hill said. “And also, it could be something that you catch early enough, and hopefully that’s what is happening in Blake’s case. Hopefully it all goes well and he’s back out there soon.”