Shaquem Griffin is one of the best stories in football right now.
The former UCF linebacker has only his right hand yet became the AAC defensive player of the year in 2016 and was named a second-team All-American in 2017. He took the NFL combine by storm, putting up 20 reps on the bench press with a prosthetic right hand and running a 4.38 40-yard dash, the fastest time from a linebacker since 2013.
Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples detailed how the Griffin family first reacted to a condition that put Shaquem’s hand at risk:
When Tangie Griffin was pregnant, an ultrasound revealed that a fibrous strand of the amniotic membrane had wrapped around Shaquem's left wrist. If left alone, the band would keep his left hand from developing. Doctors could try to move the band, but if they did, the band might wrap around the neck of one of the twins. "I had a choice to say, 'Let's try it and pray everything is O.K.,' " Tangie says. "But in my mind, that is not an option at all." So Tangie and her husband, Terry, discussed how they'd parent a son with a malformed left hand or no left hand at all. Their conclusion? Treat him no differently than their other children. Never let him consider his condition a hindrance.
For the first four years of Shaquem's life, any jolt to his left hand brought waves of pain. The night he banged the bunk bed frame, Shaquem had enough. So had his mother. A nurse, Tangie called in a favor from a doctor she knew. He said he could get Shaquem on the schedule within the next month. No, Tangie told him. Tomorrow. The next day, after an operation, instead of feeling like something was missing, Shaquem felt relief.
Griffin was selected 141st overall in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL draft by the Seahawks, where his brother Shaquill plays cornerback. Subscribe for a seven-day free trial to SI TV to watch a feature on his inspiring story.