On Wednesday, Shaquem Griffin signed a letter of intent to play football at the University of Central Florida. He signed the letter with his right hand. On Tuesday, he made a near-miraculous one-handed interception in his final football game as a high schooler, the International Bowl. He picked off the pass with his right hand as well, earning a spot on ESPN's Top 10 plays for the interception you see below.
The distinction in doing both acts one-handed is not trivial. Rather, Griffin intercepted a pass and signed his name with his right hand because he only has a right hand. Unlike every other top recruit, Shaquem Griffin doesn’t have a left hand. Inspiringly, it has hardly slowed him down.
As chronicled by Max Preps and other outlets, Shaquem Griffin was born with a condition called Amniotic Band Syndrome, where his amniotic sac wrapped around his wrist, cut off circulation and severely affected the development of his left hand in the womb. Except for that condition, Griffin was born in good health along with his identical twin brother, Shaquill Griffin.
The brothers have grown up together and remained inseparable. They would be very difficult to tell apart if it wasn’t for the fact that Shaquem had his left hand amputated at the tender age of 4.
While the Griffins’ mother, Tangie Griffin, said she worried about the decision to amputate her son’s stunted, painful hand, Shaquem said he was desperate for her to do so.
"Absolutely [Tangie Griffin made the right choice]," Shaquem told MaxPreps. "I wanted to have fun in my life. I wanted to do what Shaquill and all the other kids could do. I wanted to do the things I love.
"I adapted pretty fast so if kids noticed, they'd ask and I'd tell them and that was pretty much it. I never want people to feel nervous around me so I'm glad when they do ask."
As it turns out, Shaquem learned to do the things that Shaquill and the other kids did, like tie his own shoes, even earlier than his twin. When Shaquill signed up to play Little League and flag football, Shaquem signed up with him, regardless of his handicap.
From there, both twins flourished … together. In fact, they are so inseparable that they flat out refused to play for any program that didn’t want them both. While both brothers received individual offers to a number of top programs, the most prominent schools that recruited them as a pair were Boston College, South Florida and Central Florida. They decided together that Central Florida was the right place, close enough to home so that their parents could easily see them compete together.
Clearly, the real winner here is the UCF football program. They’re not getting one great athlete, they’re getting two, both of whom will push each other to achieve whatever they want, together.
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