Rare Disease Report

One-Handed UCF Linebacker Invited to NFL Combine

FEBRUARY 02, 2018
Kaitlynn Ely
Shaquem Griffin, rare disease survivor and linebacker for the University of Central Florida (UCF) football team, has received an invitation to the National Football League (NFL) combine.

What makes Griffin so special from others on the list of attendees is his lack of a left hand, which was amputated after his 4th birthday due to amniotic band syndrome, a condition where bands develop around the baby in the womb, constricting different areas of the body.

Current standard-of-care for the disorder includes physical and occupational therapy, however, amputation may be necessary later in life. For Griffin, it was his left arm that was affected during development.

Despite only having one hand, Griffin has been a starter for the Knights’ defense for the past 2 years. While he may be undersized at 220 pounds compared to other at his position, scouts believe Griffin could be potentially make a move to strong safety, if need be.

Earlier this month, Griffin was awarded the Rare Disease Champion Award from the nonprofit organization Uplifting Athletes. His work with Limbitless Solutions, a group that financially supports children in need of prosthetic limbs, earned him the prestigious honor.

Griffin’s twin brother, Shaquill, is a cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks and Shaquem’s biggest fan. After Shaquem became a two-time first-team All-American Athletic Conference defender, AAC’s defensive player of the year in 2016 and defensive MVP of the Peach Bowl, Shaquill was not at all surprised that his brother received an invite to the scouting event.

"I feel like any other player who has the accolades that he has and everything that he's accomplished, he'd be the first person to have a combine invite," Shaquill told ESPN. "And you're going to tell me the reason why is because of his situation? That's not fair. I'm not sure what else he has to prove at that point. That's the reason why I stood up [for him], not just because he's my twin brother. He proved everybody wrong, he did everything he's done, he has all the accolades, he's a baller. I don't see why he shouldn't have a combine invite."

Around the NFL, personalities like San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch are looking forward to seeing Griffin at the combine. Lynch told ESPN that Griffin has earned his invite not only because of his inspiring story, but also as a result of his athleticism.

"Thank you all for all (your) support. The entire nation's behind me and I couldn't do it without you. I'm going to let you know: something special's coming soon and you're going to see it," Griffin said in a tweeted video. "They invited the right one to the NFL combine. I'm going to show you. I've got a lot to prove. Against all odds."
If drafted, Shaquem Griffin will be the first player with one hand to ever play in the NFL.

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