Griffin was born in Kansas City, Missouri, and was raised by his single mother, Doris Thomas, a phone company operator. His family were Jehovah's Witnesses. In 1984, at 16 years old, he moved to Compton, California to live with his cousins. in 1986, after graduating from Compton High, Griffin enrolled as a biological engineering major at Kansas State University, but later left in 1988 and moved to New York City to pursue a career in comedy. Griffin did not see his mother for four years, after Griffin and his mother got into an argument at his 20th birthday party, where Griffin's mother accused him of stealing jewelry from her, which Griffin denied doing. Griffin later moved back to Los Angeles, California in March 1992, to be closer with his family when his mother was injured in a car accident.
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