#AgainstAllOdds: Shaquem Griffin’s Story of Perseverance, Determination, and Purpose

In 1995, twin brothers Shaquill and Shaquem Griffin were born in St. Petersburg, Florida, identical in every aspect except one- Shaquem was born with amniotic band syndrome, causing the fingers on his left hand to not fully develop. After enduring years of pain, Shaquem decided to have his hand amputated. However, he didn’t let this stop him from becoming athlete, competing alongside his twin in baseball, track, and football. 

As the twins grew older and became more seriously involved in football, the odds against Shaquem ever being able to “make it” as a football player seemed insurmountable. People chose to focus on the fact that he only had one hand instead of looking at the incredible natural athleticism that allowed him to excel in the sport. Fully immersed in other people’s doubt, Shaquem could have easily fallen prey to their toxic thoughts and given up playing the sport that he loved.

But, Shaquem refused to let this happen, and with his twin by his side, defied these odds. Their mentality? Anything Shaquill could do, Shaquem could do with a little modification. They came up with ways to allow Shaquem to continue to lift and train with the rest of the football team, and the twins’ undeniable talent on the field began to catch the attention of college football programs across the country.

Shaquill was immediately offered scholarships by big name schools like the University of Florida, but he turned them down, insisting that he wanted to play at a school where his brother could play too. Shaquill and Shaquem were both offered football scholarships at the University of Central Florida and played there for the duration of their college careers.

 

After Shaquill was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in 2017, Shaquem was eagerly awaiting his chance to shine. After receiving a late invitation to the 2018 NFL Combine, Shaquem knew that his performance would determine the rest of his football career- he had to give it his all.

At the Combine, Shaquem didn’t just perform, he amazed. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds, the fastest time ever recorded for a linebacker, and tying his twin brother’s time. He performed an astounding 20 reps in the bench press using a prosthetic hand. His perseverance, determination, and strong sense of purpose allowed him to defy the odds that had been stacked against him. 

In the 2018 NFL draft, Shaquem was drafted as the 141st overall pick by the Seattle Seahawks, reuniting him with his twin and making Shaquem the first ever NFL player with only one hand. Breaking this barrier has inspired people all around the country, showing them that you don’t have to be held back from pursuing your dreams because of a disability.

As a born and raised Seattle girl, I could not be more excited to see what this upcoming season holds for both Shaquill and Shaquem, and witness Shaquem’s continued ability to excel as an athlete #AgainstAllOdds.