March 2018 Ability Not Disability

2 / 4
22-year-old Shaquem Griffin, the University of Central Florida’s strongside linebacker, is never happier than when he is holding a football. Not only because he will have achieved his goal of intercepting a play, but because as a young man, nobody expected him to be able to.
Complications before birth meant that Shaquem’s left hand could not develop fully, but that didn’t hold him back. Last year, the American Athletic Conference lauded him as defensive player of the year. 

“It's not a deformity unless you make it one,” says Shaquem, “You're not disabled unless you say 'I'm disabled.”

Shaquem is now on a quest to join his twin brother Shaquill, who plays for the Seattle Seahawks, in the NFL. If he achieves his goal, he will make history as the first player with one hand to be drafted in the modern era of the NFL. 

"I've seen players with two hands get blocked all day against guys who Shaquem won't have a problem with”, says a scout, “because he's an innately violent player. Those guys are hard to find. There are a few missed tackles because he can't completely wrap up all the time, but he hustles his way into tackles other guys would never get to. His motor is rare."