For many young kids, athletes are their earliest heroes (other than their parents, of course). Seeing these supernatural human beings play their hearts out on the field is inspiring. It's also something that most kids appreciate and aspire to be, which makes their role in our society incredibly important.
The problem when it comes to athletes is that they don't necessarily reflect everyone in society. Consider football players especially. If a young girl is interested in or wants to play football, for example, she has no one who looks like her to look up to. The same goes for kids with disabilities.
Kids with disabilities have very few role models to look up to that reflect who they are. That's why this story, and the story of Seattle Seahawks linebacker Shaquem Griffin is so special. He recently gave a heartwarming visit to a rehabilitation center to visit a boy who had his left arm amputated.
Shaquem Griffin is a linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks who is on a mission to inspire future generations of children with disabilities. He believes that they should chase their dreams, no matter how big they are, or how insurmountable their personal challenges may be. Recently Griffin visited a young boy named Joseph who suffers from a similar disability, missing his left arm.
Griffin's disability makes him unique compared to other players. Griffin had to have his left hand amputated when he was a child, just like Joseph, so he visited the Brooks Rehabilitation Center in Jacksonville Florida to meet Joseph. At first Joseph was shy, but he eventually came around and they shared a beautiful moment. This is all part of Shaquem Griffin showing kids like Joseph that their disability doesn't have to hold them back from their dreams.
Griffin was a star player in college when he played for the University of Central Florida. He was chosen in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL draft by the Seahawks, which made history. His visit to the Brooks Rehabilitation Center in Jacksonville marked a return to the state where he got his start. His drafting made epic history because of his disability. When he was four years old he was born with amniotic band syndrome, a rare condition that prevented his fingers from growing correctly.
The story is far more tragic than a child simply having a medical procedure done. The pain that Griffin's undeveloped fingers caused him was so horrible that even at that young age, he tried to cut his hand off with a knife. It was then that they knew they needed to amputate.
Shaquem Griffin is an absolute beast when it comes to physical performance. During NFL's combine in Indianapolis last year, he was able to bench press 225 pounds for 20 repetitions while wearing a prosthetic hand. Just one day later he ran a record setting 40-yard dash. He did it in 4.38 seconds. That's what got him on the Seahawks along with his twin brother, Shaquill, a cornerback for the Seahawks.
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.