Article

Shaquem Griffin´s journey to NFL a story of determination & brotherly love

April 29 2018 9:00 AM

There are two things Shaquem Griffin has had to get used to in his life – adversity and being snubbed. Fortunately, his brother has been with him every step of the way.

The linebacker realised his NFL dream on Saturday as he was drafted in the fifth round by the Seattle Seahawks, joining his twin brother Shaquill in the Pacific Northwest, after a remarkable journey to the professional ranks.

Shaquem was born with amniotic band syndrome, a condition leading the fingers on his left hand to not fully develop.

So severe was pain in his hand that the four-year-old Shaquem attempted to self-amputate his fingers with a butcher knife, with that incident prompting his parents to take him to hospital to have the hand amputated.

But that turn of events did not stop Griffin from pursuing a sporting career as he competed in track and field and baseball as well as football, and left Lakewood High School graded as a three-star athlete in the collegiate recruiting class.

Yet when it came time to make the jump to college it was Shaquill who received the greater interest and refused offers from several high-profile schools because they would not also sign Shaquem.

Central Florida agreed to do so, but Shaquem's path to stardom with the Knights proved far from straightforward as he was dropped to third string and then the scout team in his second season.

However, rather than quit, Shaquem fought his way back to the starting defense and flourished under head coach Scott Frost, compiling 33.5 tackles for loss and 18.5 sacks in his final two seasons and being named American Athletic Conference Player of the Year in 2016.

Shaquem's tale has been one defined by relentlessness. Despite the stellar end to his career at UCF, he had to campaign for an invite to the Scouting Combine, with an excellent week of practices at the Senior Bowl - the premier All-Star game for college prospects - helping him to secure one.

Not stopping there he subsequently stole the show in Indianapolis with 20 bench reps using a prosthetic arm and a lightning fast 40-yard dash time of 4.38 seconds.

His performance at the Combine led to Griffin becoming an international sensation and talk of him being drafted in the second or third round but, in keeping with the rest of his journey, Shaquem had to endure one last snub as he slipped to 141st overall when the Seahawks made the call.

Fittingly it was Shaquill who spotted Shaquem's phone ringing first, bursting into the bathroom to urge him to answer.

"That was the phone call I've been waiting for my entire life," Shaquem said on NFL Network. "I couldn't breathe, I forgot how to talk, I was just lost for words.

"The opportunity to play with my brother, we made it to the next chapter of my life and we're still together."

They are still together and, with Shaquill likely to start for the Seahawks at cornerback following Richard Sherman's exit, they figure to play a big role as Seattle look to maintain a long-standing reputation of excellent play on defense.

But for Shaquem, his story, though not complete, is about more than proving he is worthy of a place in the NFL, it is about showing to those he has inspired that anything is possible.

"It don't matter if you have one hand, two hands, three hands, 40 hands," he added. "If you keep pushing for everything you want in life you can accomplish it."

Shaquem has kept pushing on every stop of his road to the NFL, he has overcome every obstacle and every setback he has faced. With his determination, and a brother like Shaquill, the sky truly is the limit for Shaquem, and it would be foolish to bet against him becoming an NFL success with the Seahawks.

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