The Leopard

One-handed NFL linebacker Shaquem Griffin

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ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 01: UCF Knights linebacker Shaquem Griffin (18) leaves the field for halftime of the Peach Bowl between the UCF Knights and the Auburn Tigers. UCF defeated Auburn by the score off 34-27 at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 01: UCF Knights linebacker Shaquem Griffin (18) leaves the field for halftime of the Peach Bowl between the UCF Knights and the Auburn Tigers. UCF defeated Auburn by the score off 34-27 at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 01: UCF Knights linebacker Shaquem Griffin (18) leaves the field for halftime of the Peach Bowl between the UCF Knights and the Auburn Tigers. UCF defeated Auburn by the score off 34-27 at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Noah Hamula, Sports Writer

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Shaquem Griffin, a linebacker from the University of Central Florida, isn’t your normal linebacker. At the age of four he had his left hand amputated due to a rare prenatal condition, but it hasn’t slowed Griffin down even a little bit. He was named the American Athletic Conference Player of the Year. Griffin also had the fastest 40-yard dash by a linebacker since 2003 at 4.38 seconds. He was drafted 141st in the fifth round to the Seattle Seahawks. Against all odds, Griffin continues to prove everyone wrong.

When Griffin was the age of four, he was about to slice off his left deformed hand with a kitchen knife before his mom stopped him. The next day, he had his hand amputated and was told not to get his bandage dirty or muddy. He ignored his mom and continued to play football. His older brother, Shaquill Griffin, was also very into football. He was drafted 90th overall to the Seattle Seahawks. Shaquill and Shaquem both played football at UCF before they were reunited once again playing for the Seahawks.

Shaquem has had to play in the shadow of his older brother his whole life but it was never a problem for him.”The way coaches would tell me, ‘You’re not going to be nothing but a shadow of your brother,’ or, ‘You’re always going to be on scout team.’ I had to hear that all the time,” Griffin says. “They can’t dictate how hard I work. They can’t dictate what I’m going to do for myself. I had to remember that.”
Even though Griffin is put at a slight disadvantage, he doesn’t want to just be a ‘feel-good’ story. “For me, I know it’s more than a feel-good story. It seems like that to everyone else. But I want everybody to see me as a football player.” Griffin is very determined to be the best football player he can be, and has had that mindset since he started playing football. His dad and older brother have helped create devices to make it easier for him to work out and train. He did 20 reps on the bench press with the device his family helped create at the NFL combine, not bad for missing a hand.

Griffins jersey sales have gone through the roof. He is now fifth in rookie jersey sales and it is still rising. What’s unique about Griffin is he is the only one of the top five that wasn’t drafted in the first round. The city of Seattle can’t wait to see Griffin play, and these jersey sales prove that he is a fan favorite. He has potential to grow and prove that he can be a vital piece for the Seahawks defense, which will only increase the amount of jersey sales and fans he has.

Griffin has faced doubt and has had the odds against him all throughout his life. He’s had to work twice as hard as anyone else. When others see him as less valuable or not capable of accomplishing his goals, it only drives him more. “I have to show them why they should respect me,” Griffin says, “So I always have that edge.” Griffin still has so much to prove and is excited to show everyone what he is made of.

Shaquem Griffen

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