Meet the one-handed football player who just took a massive step toward reaching the NFL

Combined Shape

Shaquem Griffin is no different than so many other college football players who dream about playing in the NFL.

Other than the fact he’s missing his left hand, that is.

The University of Central Florida linebacker was named American Athletic Conference defensive player of the year in 2016, and was a unanimous all-conference pick this season.

For good measure, he helped cap off UCF’s unlikely perfect season by being named the defensive MVP of the Knights’ win over Auburn in the Peach Bowl.

Now, after a bit of a public outcry, Griffin has been invited to the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis.

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Shaquem made the announcement on Twitter.

“Thank you all for all ya’ll support. The entire nation’s behind me and I couldn’t do it without you. I’m going to let you know: something special’s coming soon and you’re going to see it,” Griffin said in a video he tweeted. “They invited the right one to the NFL Combine. I’m going to show you. I’ve got a lot to prove. Against all odds.”

Did we mention that he only has one hand?

Griffin was born with Amniotic Band Syndrome, which affects just one out of every 1,200 children. The disease prevented his hand from fully developing, and causes intense pain in his fingers.

At age four, Shaquem tried to cut his fingers with a knife. He had his hand amputated the next day.

That didn’t stop him and his twin, Shaquill, from tearing up the football fields.

In fact, Shaquill — who also went to UCF — was a late addition to last year’s combine, and ended up being drafted in the third round by Seattle.

That Shaquem Griffin was originally left off the invite list this year was a hot topic during the week of the Senior Bowl, where he collected four tackles, and even more admirers.

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“I would love to [see him at the combine]. I think he’s earned it,” San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch said. “I think everyone’s watching closely. You talk to people at UCF, and they talk about a program-changer. A guy who is obviously inspiring, but not just inspiring — who was a big-time contributor.

“So if you keep checking the boxes … and this [week] was another box for him, and I think he’s accounted for himself very well.”

Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage summed it up nicely, saying, “Shaquem is one of the most amazing stories of this whole college football season.”

During Senior Bowl week, the star linebacker made it clear how badly he wants to become the first player missing a limb to play in the NFL.

After what he’s already accomplished, it wouldn’t surprise too many people if he could do that, too.

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Mike is an 11-time Michigan Emmy Award winner who has spent nearly 30 years working in sports media.
Mike has spent nearly 30 years in all aspects of sports media, including on-air, 10 at ESPN and another 10 at Fox Sports Detroit. He now works as a TV agent, and lives with his family in West Bloomfield, MI.
Sudbury, Massachusetts
11-time Michigan Emmy winner
Emerson College
Books Written
The Longest Year: One Family's Journey Of Life, Death, And Love/If These Walls Could Talk: Detroit Tigers/If These Walls Could Talk: Detroit Lions
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