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Shaq Griffin’s Path to the NFL

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Shaq Griffin’s Path to the NFL

Both Griffin brothers now play for the Seattle Seahawks.

Both Griffin brothers now play for the Seattle Seahawks.

Courtesy of The Seattle Times

Both Griffin brothers now play for the Seattle Seahawks.

Courtesy of The Seattle Times

Courtesy of The Seattle Times

Both Griffin brothers now play for the Seattle Seahawks.

Ryan Van Kirk, Sentry Staff Reporter

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Linebacker Shaquem (Shaq) Griffin was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks as the 90th overall pick in the 2018 National Football League (NFL) draft. While this may seem insignificant to many, Griffin’s story is nothing short of incredible.

Griffin was born in St. Petersburg, Florida along with his twin brother Shaquill in 1995. Football was always a passion for the Griffin twins; they were constantly training with their father who pushed them to be great. Both became high school football stars and received scholarships to attend the University of Central Florida (UCF).

What makes Shaq Griffin’s story so impressive is not his work ethic or skills, which he has plenty of, but rather, his ability to do all that he does without a left hand. While the Griffin twins were in the womb, the amniotic sac got caught on Shaq’s wrist; because of this, he was “born with amniotic band syndrome, a congenital disorder that constricts the appendages, including fingers and toes” (Sports Illustrated). He had fingers, but they could not be used and caused him a lot of pain. At age four, Griffin’s parents decided to amputate his left hand.

At UCF, Griffin redshirted his freshman year, meaning his was not eligible to play that year, but kept one year of eligibility in the future. The next two years, he got virtually no playing time, and sometimes did not even dress for games. During this time, his brother Shaquill was getting plenty of playing time and performing at a high level. He was drafted in 2017 by the Seattle Seahawks in the third round. During Shaq’s junior year he was given a shot, recording 92 total tackles, one interception, and two forced fumbles. This past year, Griffin added 72 more tackles, along with another interception, and two more forced fumbles. Even more impressively, Griffin was a leader on a UCF team that went 13-0. In the final game of the season, UCF beat Auburn in the Peach Bowl solidifying them as one of the best teams in the country.

After his senior year, it was unclear whether Griffin would be a draft pick or not. Many did not think he would attend the NFL combine, however, Griffin was determined to prove himself as a good draft choice. Once again, he shocked everyone; at the combine Griffin put up 20 reps at 225 pounds on the bench press with a prosthetic hand attached to the bar. Griffin also posted a 117 inch broad jump, but perhaps most impressively, he ran a 4.38 second 40-yard dash. For comparison, only eight players had faster times, all of them receivers or cornerbacks, who are generally the fastest players.

Despite Griffin’s remarkable night, an NFL team still needed to take a risk and draft him. After the first two days of the draft, Griffin’s name had still not be called. On the third and final day of the draft, Griffin heard his name called in the fifth round by his brother’s current team, the Seattle Seahawks.

His story has inspired everyone, but none more so than kids who were also born with amniotic band syndrome. His perseverance has given many kids the confidence to live their lives without feeling restricted by their condition. Annika Emmert and Juliana Linton were both born with amniotic band syndrome and love Griffin as both a player and role model. Griffin’s story provides these kids with someone to look up to, someone who succeeded despite the setbacks.

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