Joseph Grillo: Six Feet of
called himself Jumping Joe. He was six-feet even, but
bite your tongue if you think that is short for a
basketball player. How tall do you think Allen Iverson
Joseph Grillo, as his wife, Mary Jo, put it, "was a
maniac basketball player." He played three times a week,
with friends from Brooklyn on Friday and with a group on
Staten Island, where he lived, on Wednesday and Saturday.
He played hard. He played exceptionally well. He would
not stop, even as the game gnawed at his 46-year-old
body. "It took his knees, his ankles, his wrists," his
wife said. "But he loved it so much."
Mrs. Grillo supported his commitment, though she
established certain fouls of her own. He wanted to play
on their wedding day. Forget that. The Saturday game took
place in the morning, and the men liked to return home
and collapse on the couch. "A lot of them slept all day,"
Mrs. Grillo said. She made it clear that he had to do
things with her and the two boys. So he would have a
hearty lunch and keep his eyes open.
Another thing about Mr. Grillo, a risk finance analyst
for the Port Authority, was that he was intensely loyal
to a wide network of friends. He was great at listening
to their problems. "He was aware of whose wife had breast
cancer, whose kid was giving his parents a hard time,"
Mrs. Grillo said. "I heard from so many people, `Oh, I
had just talked to Joe the week before,' `I just talked
to Joe the day before.' I started to wonder, `Did he ever
do any work?' "