Sometimes, a hero is larger than life, unreachable, unattainable. Other times, our heroes are completely in touch with us and all of our aspirations and dreams. As a child, athletes are usually their first heroes.
There is something awe-inspiring about watching an athlete play his game, and most times the athletes lead personal lives that make them an ideal role model for our children. Some kids don’t have anyone that can “speak” to them on a subconscious level, though.
Athletes are perfection, strong and fast. A child who is disabled may admire an athlete, but that athlete will never understand his own personal story and struggle.
Unless, that is, your hero happens to be Shaquem Griffin, linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks. Shaquem recently visited a rehab center to personally encourage a young boy who had just had his arm amputated.
You wouldn’t think that a famous linebacker for a popular football team would have anything in common with the tiny tot at the Brooks Rehabilitation Center in Jacksonville, Florida. The truth is, he completely understands the challenges that Joseph will face as an amputee.
When Shaquem was a child, not much older than Joseph, he had to have his own left hand and arm amputated because of complications due to a disorder called Amniotic Band Syndrome.
The congenital defect prevented his fingers from growing on his left hand. The young child was in so much pain from the disorder that he tried to cut his own hand off using a knife. His family and his doctors knew then that they had no choice but to amputate Shaquem’s left hand.
Shaquem miraculously overcame the odds and followed his dream to play professional football. He is now the linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks and has made it his goal in life to inspire children with disabilities to be all they can dream, no matter what.
For his part, Shaquem Griffin is unmatched with his feats of physical strengths and performance. Last year, during the NFL’s Indianapolis combine, Shaquem bench pressed 225 pounds over a period of twenty repetitions while he was wearing his prosthetic hand.
The following day, he ran a 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds, setting a new record. He dominates the field with his team alongside his twin brother Shaquill, who plays cornerback for the team.
Their Heartwarming Meeting
For Shaquem, the rehabilitation center in Jacksonville was sort of like coming home; it was in Florida that Shaquem first got his start, making history on his draft due to his disability. Shaquem was playing for the University of Florida when he was noticed and picked in the fifth round of the draft in 2018.
Initially, Joseph was very shy and reserved, but Shaquem was able to comfort the child and they ended up sharing a moment that Joseph won’t ever forget. Shaquem is committed to proving to children that a disability is not the end of their dreams, and that they can still be anything they want to be.
Don’t call Shaquem handicapped, though. Griffin explained in an interview, “I don’t even like hearing words like (handicapped) because if you got a disability or a handicap, that means you’re limited to certain things. And I don’t feel like I’m limited to nothing. I can do anything anybody else can do.”
Shaquem Griffin is a hero in every sense of the word, and even more so to one tiny, frightened boy named Joseph.
Griffin told TODAY, “I don’t even like hearing words like (handicapped) Because if you got a disability or a handicap, that means you’re limited to certain things. And I don’t feel like I’m limited to nothing. I can do anything anybody else can do.”
Griffin will certainly inspire many more children who would otherwise be told that they can’t do sports because of their disability.