What is a disability? For University of Central Florida linebacker Shaquem Griffin, it’s nothing but a state of mind.
“I never feel like anything I have is a disability because I can do anything I put my mind to,” the All-American college senior told the Orlando Sentinel.
Buzz has it that NFL teams might be looking to add him to their roster — and they don’t seem to care that he only has one hand.
Shaquem’s deformity started in the womb, a congenital condition caused by amniotic band constriction, which occurs when a fibrous strand of tissue wends its way around an unborn infant’s limb.
His mother, Tangie Griffin, was told that a procedure could correct the disorder, but since she was pregnant with twins, it could kill either one.
Tangie refused to risk the lives of either of her boys, and when Shaquem entered the world 60 seconds after his brother Shaquill, he had undeveloped digits on his left hand.
Those stunted fingers would cause near continuous pain for the little boy up until he was four years old.
One night, Tangie woke up to the sound of Shaquem screaming, “It hurts!”
She found him in the kitchen, a knife held over his hand, ready to pare off his hand.
The very next day, she got him in to see a surgeon who safely amputated his hand, which relieved the boy rather than horrifying him.
The day after that, he went back to playing football, his favorite sport, even though it made his newly stitched stump bleed.
That dedication has paid off for him while playing for UCF. He earned the title of American Athletic Conference defensive player of the year in 2016, and NFL scouts say he stands a chance in the draft.
“Any coach would try and exploit him,” Shaquill, who currently plays for the Seattle Seahawks, told the TimesDaily. “It will give him more times to prove them wrong.
“He loves that. The one hand makes him better.”
Shaquem concurs, telling Sports Illustrated that “a lot of people in our generation like to make excuses about little things that really don’t hinder them from doing what they want to. It always comes down to the work ethic.
“God put you on the Earth for a purpose. I feel like my purpose is to get away from people making excuses.”
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