Shaquem Griffin spent his rookie season with the Seahawks not just learning the ins and outs of being an NFL linebacker, but also providing inspiration to so many people who have been moved by his story.
But being an inspiration is nothing new to Griffin, who became a star at UCF prior to becoming a fifth-round pick in last year's draft, and as a result he received the NCAA Inspiration Award on Wednesday in his hometown of Orlando.
The NCAA Inspiration Award is given to the athlete, coach or administrator in intercollegiate athletics who "used perseverance, dedication and determination to overcome a life-altering situation, and most importantly, are role models giving hope and inspiration to others."
"It feels good to be honored with this award because it goes to show that everything that I did in college and what I'm doing now is still being seen," Griffin told the Orlando Sentinel. "It always feels good when you're able to share your story with everybody and still have a very big impact."
Griffin, who had his left hand amputated when he was 4, has spent his entire life proving people wrong, and in 2016 he was named the American Athletic Conference's Defensive Player of the Year. In 2017, he helped lead the Knights to an undefeated season. After a breakout performance at the NFL Scouting Combine, Griffin was picked by Seattle in the fifth round of last year's draft reuniting him with his twin brother, Shaquill, with whom he had been teammates throughout his entire football career prior to 2017.
As a rookie with the Seahawks, Griffin started one game at weakside linebacker in place of an injured K.J. Wright, and was a core special teams player, recording seven special teams tackles. He plans on using this offseason to get himself ready to take on a bigger role in 2019.
"I feel like I can come in, go to work, know what I need to work on to not only be a special teams player, but a key player on defense," Griffin said a day after Seattle’s season ended in a playoff loss to Dallas. "... Working on being able to call out plays before I see them, being able to communicate well. Those are the most important things, because if you can communicate and get guys in the right spot, there's no reason why you can't get things done. I feel like that's a very important part of my game, and make sure I keep the speed and make sure I keep the aggressiveness."
The NCAA Inspiration Award might not end up being Griffin's only award this offseason. He is also a nominee for Sports Story of the Year at the 84th annual Sports Star of the Year Awards put on by the Seattle Sports Commission. Fans can vote for Griffin, as well as receiver Tyler Lockett, who is up for Male Sports Star of the Year, by clicking here.
Giving to Fly, a group that supports amputees and children with missing limbs by giving them the financial support to attend camps around the country, visited 2018 Seahawks training camp on Thursday, July 26 at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center, where they spent time after practice with Seattle cornerback Shaquill Griffin and his twin brother, Seattle linebacker Shaquem Griffin, who had his left hand amputated at an early age due to amniotic band syndrome.