American football linebacker Shaquem Griffin is finally reunited with his twin brother, Shaquill Griffin, as the Seattle Seahawks selected Griffin in the fifth round of the NFL draft.
He is the first one-handed player drafted by an NFL team. The linebacker was born with amniotic band syndrome, a rare birth defect, which caused him significant pain. He then had his left hand amputated when he was just 4.
The 22-year-old was a star college player at the University of Central Florida. His twin brother Shaquill was a third-round selection of the Seahawks in last year’s draft, and started 11 games for the Seahawks last season.
Prior to the draft, he said, “A lot of people are asking, 'Are you worried about where you're going to go in the draft? Are you worried about what team you are going to be in?”
"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. 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,” he added.
When he received a phone call from Seahawks general manager, John Schneider, and Coach Pete Carroll to notify him, the UCF star repeatedly said he was out of breath and overwhelmed.
“I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t know what to say. I was trying to get the words out, but I couldn’t talk,” he said.
Both Griffin brothers were visibly emotional upon learning that Shaquem had been drafted by the Seahawks.
Playing with one hand didn't prevent the UCF star from earning a starting spot on his college team. Griffin was a star for the unbeaten Knights last season and then lit up his combine workouts, running a sub-4.4 second time for the 40-yard dash, the fastest time for a linebacker at the combine since 2003.
Griffin also bench-pressed 225 pounds (102kg) 20 times, three more than his twin had managed, having attached a prosthetic hand onto the bar.
Thumbnail, Banner: Reuters/Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports