Seahawks linebacker Shaquem Griffin was recognized once again for an inspiring rookie season that touched the lives of not only football fans, but of children and adults around the country who were moved by his story.
Griffin, who the Seahawks selected in the fifth-round of the 2018 draft, was the recipient of the NFL Game Changer Award during Saturday's NFL Honors event. The Game Changer award, which was created last year, recognizes a member of the football family who has positively contributed to the sport and his or her community.
The award is the second in as many weeks for Griffin, who last week received the NCAA Inspiration Award in Orlando.
Griffin, who in Seattle was reunited with his twin brother, Seahawks cornerback Shaquill Griffin, made it to the NFL despite having his left hand amputated as a young child, a setback that many people throughout his life told him would keep him from succeeding on the football field. Griffin, his brother and his parents never doubted his ability, however, and after a standout career at UCF and a strong showing at the NFL Scouting Combine, Griffin found himself on an NFL roster in 2018. Throughout the year, his main focus was on football, but Griffin also was generous with his time, meeting with limb-different children at home games and practices, as well as in nearly every city the Seahawks played in during the season.
"It's just really showing them that whatever you put your mind to, whatever you work for, you can always accomplish it," Griffin said in the preseason after meeting with kids from an organization called NubAbility. "All it takes is hard work and giving it everything you got. It doesn't matter what limits you have, as long as you give it everything you've got, eventually it's going to pay off. A lot of kids nowadays, they start working, then when it gets too hard, they stop. You've got to be able to push through the hard parts, and eventually it will come out in your favor."
After accepting the award Saturday night, Griffin told the crowd at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, "Nothing comes easy, that's what my dad always said to me and my brother… I'm honored to be here among you guys, because I never thought I'd be here. Just being around you guys, it's amazing. Growing up as a child, being told what I couldn't do, it can weigh heavy on your heart. But I had family, I had my brothers, I had those around me to keep my head straight, to keep my hopes high, and now I can say I'm blessed and I'm honored to be here in front of you. I want to say thank you to the Seahawks for giving me the opportunity to be here, thank you to the NFL. And the message I want to give today is, for those of you who have dreams and aspirations to be great in life, do not let negativity dictate who you're going to become."
Griffin made it to the NFL because of his talent and athleticism, which he showed regularly on special teams throughout the season, but he also used his platform to inspire, something that made his first year in the NFL much bigger than just another rookie season for a fifth-round pick.
"I can't even put into words how proud I am of him," Shaquill Griffin said. "Everything he's doing, he's doing it the right way. He's not letting everything get to his head, he's using his platform to help others. He's putting everybody first before himself, and that's all you can ask for from a professional athlete. You can see he's making a difference not just in the community, but in the world. It's so cool to see, and that it's coming from my twin brother, I'm more than proud. It's hard to put into words the things he's doing and that he's about to do. He's only getting started."