Seattle Seahawks linebacker Shaquem Griffin made modern day history last year when he was drafted as the first one-handed NFL player. Now, the athlete is using his platform to inspire others to chase their dreams.
Griffin, 23, held a meet-and greet over the weekend at the Brooks Rehabilitation Center in Jacksonville, Florida. One young boy in particular stood out as he shared the same disability with the athlete. Little Joseph was seen smiling during the event before he nervously walked up to Griffin. Griffin chit-chatted with the fan, who warmed up to him after a few moments. The NFL star then picked him up and the pair posed for adorable photos together.
Griffin had his left hand amputated at the age of four, having been born with a condition that prevented the fingers on that hand from fully developing.
The star, from the University of Central Florida, was drafted to the Seattle Seahawks last April.
He said before he heard his name was read out: ‘I want to show the entire world, no matter (if you have) one hand, two hands, if you’re a ball player, you just play ball.
‘If I can get to a practice, that’s when everyone is going to see who I really am.
‘I’m not worried about where I go, what time I get picked or what team picks me, as long as I get a chance to get to a practice, I’m going to show everybody what I can really do.’
Griffin excelled at the college level, winning his conference’s defensive player of the year award in 2016 and then starring for an unbeaten team last season.
He gained worldwide attention at the NFL Combine in March when he ran the quickest 40-yard dash for a linebacker since 2003.
Griffin also bench-pressed 225 pounds 20 times, three more than his twin had managed, having attached a prosthetic hand onto the bar, with current NFL defensive stars JJ Watt and Von Miller among those to react in awe on social media.
His proud sibling, who was selected by the Seahawks in the third round last year, said he did not cry on his own draft day but when he heard about Shaquem’s success he was unable to hold back the tears.
‘I couldn’t hold it.
I just couldn’t hold it,’ he told ESPN.
‘I’m excited, and I’m glad we made that choice and we’re bringing my brother back home.’
Jim Abbott, a baseball pitcher who was born without a right hand, sent his best wishes to Griffin on Twitter at the time, writing: ‘Thrilled for you @Shaquemgriffin. Beyond words…’