Not a sad story. A sob story.

When he was 4 his mother found him in the kitchen with a knife. He was summoning the nerve to slice off his own fingers. This wasn’t because he was crazy but because he was all too sane and understood correctly that the dysfunctional appendages dangling from his misshapen left hand were the source of his physical agony. He wanted relief… She stopped but also heeded him, and the very next day she scheduled the operation that she had known he might need. There was no avoiding it anymore. The surgeon cut near the wrist, amputating everything below, and soon the boy returned home to figure out the rest of his life.

He declined to dwell on the cause of his defect: amniotic band syndrome, by which fibrous strands of the amniotic sac wrap around a portion of the developing fetus, strangling development. He focused instead on his response…He did that by changing exactly nothing about his dreams. He wanted to play football and so he played football, just like his twin brother, except not just like his twin brother, because his brother had an extra tool — an extra hand — that he didn’t. No matter. He compensated. He adjusted. What he lacked in reach and grip he made up for in grit and speed.

He impressed many people. He repelled some. When he was 8 the coach of a rival team tried to keep him off the field, first claiming that he had weighed in too heavy for the game and then admitting a different reason. Football, he told the boy, was for people with two hands.

“Like I was defective or something,” the boy later recalled. “Like I didn’t belong. And that was the moment I realized I was always going to have to prove people wrong.”

That’s Shaquem Griffin’s story, and it’s a gorgeous, inspiring one when we very much need it. In this rancorous country, we’re buffeted more than usual by reminders of humanity at its worst. Griffin is a glimpse of us at our best — of our ability to reframe hardship as challenge, tap extraordinary reserves of determination and achieve not just success but grace.

He kept playing, and grew into a high school football star in Florida. Kept playing, and became a starting linebacker for the University of Central Florida. Minus one hand, he intercepted balls. Minus one hand, he recovered fumbles. It was something to see, and pro scouts saw it. He was drafted to play linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks this season.

“It’s not some sob story or anything like that,” Griffin wrote in an essay in The Players’ Tribune in March — the same essay where he remembered being treated as “defective.” “It’s not even a sad story — at least not to me. It’s just my story.” …

He was recently chosen by Nike…for its Just Do It campaign. He appears in the campaign’s glorious “Dream Crazy” commercial…

If that doesn’t move you, how about this? That twin of his, Shaquill, refused to go to any college that didn’t also want his brother as part of a package deal. They attended U.C.F. together. They hate being apart, and they aren’t. Shaquill was also drafted by the Seahawks, to play cornerback…

Citizens of that nation showed up for the Denver game to watch Griffin’s big N.F.L. debut. An article by Robert Klemko in Sports Illustrated noted how visibly emotional they were and how they swarmed Griffin’s mother, a nurse, who was there, beaming, on the sidelines.

Klemko contemplated Griffin’s swelling ranks of fans and the games to come, predicting: “They won’t just be amputees, the ones who weep. They’ll be mothers and fathers. And nurses too.”

And me. I agree with Griffin: This isn’t a sad story. But it’s most definitely a sob story.

~  Frank Bruni, from The Amputee Who Showed EveryoneShaquem Griffin of the Seattle Seahawks lost his hand but not his dream. (NY Times, September 18, 2018)


Thank you Susan

Comments

  1. Yes!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. absolutely beautiful on so many levels –

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you, David, for sharing this beautiful story. Take care — Julian

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Terrific story… from an unlikely beginning.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is the world I want to live in, where a brother refuses to go to a college that doesn’t want his brother.
    Thank you for sharing, thank you Susan, THIS put my head where it needs to be 😊

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes. Exactly Sawsan. I didn’t want to pollute the story with this passage from the article but it too sums up the state of affairs:

      “That’s Shaquem Griffin’s story, and it’s a gorgeous, inspiring one when we very much need it. In this rancorous country, we’re buffeted more than usual by reminders of humanity at its worst. Griffin is a glimpse of us at our best — of our ability to reframe hardship as challenge, tap extraordinary reserves of determination and achieve not just success but grace.”

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Simply inspiring … Linebacker Shaquem Griffin has shown that even though he may only have one hand, it’s determination that matters most.
    First learned about him through the new Nike ad!
    DREAM BIG …

    Liked by 1 person

  7. 💙

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yes, sobbing – and celebrating these two brothers…and the Seahawks.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. What an uplifting story of courage and determination. What if we all had the drive to dream crazy in our lives? Thanks for your inspiration Shaquem Griffin and thanks David for sharing his story.

    Like

  10. Wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Nan Heldenbrand Morrissette says:

    This is lovely, David. We all have missing parts. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. He plays for my team and we are so glad we have both of them and that they can play together. They are both great football players. GO HAWKS!!!

    Like

  13. This is a wonderful story and so inspiring. Too often, people take pity on themselves and spend their lives in a “woe is me” state. Kudos to his parents and to all the parents out there who dish out what needs to be with loads of love.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Great story and motivation

    Liked by 1 person

  15. All I can write is, wow, and thank you for sharing this story, Dave.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Shaquem Griffin’s life is an inspiration. I don’t know if his dad was present while he was growing up? His mother and his brother wanted the best for him and extended true love & guidance to him…his mother didn’t raise him as a person with a handicap, but as a person who is whole, a person who must move forward, intellectually, physically and morally to be the best he can be…it seems his brother like many older brothers find it wonderful to have a brother to hang with…/// I grew up next door to a dear family, I still have contact with today. The father was a pastor, he had a traumatic amputation when he was 12, a tractor accident.
    The amputation was higher up than Shaquem, a little below the elbow . Sometimes the neighbor man wear a plastic sleeve with a claw or a hook depending on the need, often he didn’t wear either. He was actively engaged in life. He drove, he roughhouse with all of us, he gardened, he taught his children well. They are all very successful. I spoke at impromptly, in depth, in front of those attending at his funeral a few years back…speaking of his legacy. On a table display they showcased his prosthetic lower arm…it didn’t define him it Grew Him. Just like Shaquem he Rose as Person full of Love and Light, assets to the Human Race. /// A little younger boy a sometime playmate who lived half way around the block was born with a birth defect, he was missing one butt cheek and one leg. I remember him at times scooting on the ground, he was always curious, physical and loved to play…he learned to ride a bike, he ran dragging his prosthetic in a limping fashion, this didn’t slow him down, he played baseball …we children never made fun of him, I was in awe of him, how he over -came, his challenges. He was full of life. We moved away when I was in college and at some point in my adult life I read an article about him…I think he was either a High School or College wrestler…We all have to get on in this world no matter our background…there are so many able bodied people who don’t appreciate the Life They Are Gifted With, they feel sorry for themselves and don’t get passed the hard knocks that came their way../// I am so Thankful for my Loving Mom who continually sought medical care for me…after 25 different doctors gave her my diagnoses as to why I was locked in, not able to communicate, clumsy, walked into walls (eyesight issue) overly sensitive hearing…the last doctor said the best thing was to institutional me for the rest of my life, since I was So Highly Retarded! My mother told that doctor I would never do that, she is in there, she is smart I am the mother of six children…she just can’t communicate…my dear Mom took me to doctor 26 and he kept shaking his head back and forth and asking again how old is she, my mother said five, he said I know what the issue is and this functional issue should have be dealt with in the first or second day of life. I missed out on so many years of normal interactions. My siblings spoke for me, stood up for me…I was shy. I was teased & ridiculed even at the hands of an abuse teacher, during that time and after my successful surgery- I was severely tongue tied… I went to speech therapy for nine years. I wore glasses as a little one.I went from being underweight to overweight to underweight… I learned compassion that just because someone may have a physical issue, communication issue like being deaf, have a weight issue etc you don’t treat them differently you give them the same respect, help if they need it just like you’d give another person. Shaquem Griffin, my neighbor man, the playmate…they all Enjoyed and Enjoy life, and me I came full circle in finding Full Voice (which in one situation saved my life), Compassion, Gratefulness and Joy…and I praise God and my Mom…one foot in front of the other…Each Breath is A Gift…

    Liked by 1 person

  17. As if a human being could be defective…

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Reblogged this on Russ Towne's A Grateful Man and commented:
    For those who dream dreams and make them come true.
    With love,
    Russ

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Go Shaquem. Go Sea Hawks. Great story David.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Thank you for once again bringing a worthy story to light for me!

    Liked by 2 people

  21. I beg u come and follow me

    Like

  22. Love the story! Very inspiring

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I thought I had posted this as a comment Friday. Its not much, but its a little info on his father and upbringing.
    https://www.fatherly.com/news/nfls-future-one-handed-phenom-thanks-father-support/

    Liked by 1 person

  24. i agree this is a very inspiring story

    Liked by 1 person

  25. I only just found this offering [thankfully, I never delete when I don’t have time to read], and love everything about it. OK, nothing comes easy–must have needed to hear that right now! Thankyou…

    Liked by 1 person

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