Shaquem Griffin continues to be an inspiration to athletes everywhere. Prior to the Super Bowl, Griffin teamed up with The Hartford to provide adaptive equipment to two Tampa Bay-area athletes: J.T., an 11-year-old boy with Cerebral Palsy, and Sam, a 33-year-old female with Cerebral Palsy.
Griffin surprised each athlete virtually and then spent time talking to them about their journey while sharing stories from his football career.
“It was emotional, honestly,” Griffin said in a recent interview with NBC Sports Northwest. “To be able to give something back to somebody else, knowing what they’re going through and what they’re trying to achieve and where they’re trying to go, it was emotional for me.”
The Hartford has been an advocate for the adaptive sports movement and sponsor of athletes with disabilities for more than 25 years, and the company’s Ability Equipped program is making adaptive equipment and sports more readily accessible than ever.
Griffin has been an inspiration to athletes everywhere for years now. Griffin, who had his left hand amputated at age 4 as a result of amniotic band syndrome, a congenital birth defect, explained what it was like to get his first prosthetic. That didn’t happen until he was playing college football at UCF.
“I remember doing a pull-up for the first time,” Griffin said. “My mom was crying. The coaches were crying. They had no idea it was going to be possible. I remember doing the bench press for the first time, I had no weights on the bar. I was shaking. My mom was still crying. I didn’t even do a good bench press. Then you look at the Combine and I repped 225 pounds 22 times. You could see how far I came.”
Griffin takes pride in being a model of what hard work can accomplish, regardless of any athlete’s biological limitations. He said his goal is to remove judgement from athletics. Griffin strives to be seen as an NFL football player, not an NFL football player with one hand. That’s the message he’s attempting to spread when speaking to athletes like J.T. and Sam.
“It don’t matter if you’ve got one hand, two hands or 30 hands, you can get things done no matter what,” Griffin said. “I want to be the front-runner, or the example to say we don’t want to be looked at differently.
“I want you to see me and know that if you want to do something, if you want to be competitive, if you want to go against me in something, that you have to work just as hard as I do. Because if you don’t, you’re going to lose. That’s how I look at it.”