2018 Game Changer Award Acceptance Speech
Shaquem Griffin became the first one-handed player to be drafted and to play in the NFL. When he was just 4 years old, he had his left hand amputated due to a painful condition called amniotic band syndrome, which prevented his hand from developing normally. He has never used his lack of two hands as a reason to feel sorry for himself or to give up when he was faced with a challenge. It actually fueled his desire to prove skeptics and haters wrong, pursue his dream of playing football at the highest level and inspire millions along the way.
Shaquem was born just minutes after his twin, Shaquill. At an early age, they made a pact to always stay together, to be inseparable. Both boys went on to become standout athletes at Lakewood High School in St. Petersburg and college at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, where Shaquem was Conference Defensive Player of the Year and helped lead UCF to an undefeated, national championship season. He even received a vote for the Heisman Trophy given to the most outstanding college football player in the country. After college, Shaquem and Shaquill were remarkably both drafted by the same NFL team, the Seattle Seahawks, where they played together for three memorable seasons (2018 - 2020). Shaquem's most memorable on-the-field highlight was sacking current NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers during the playoffs in 2020. He signed with the Miami Dolphins for the 2021 season and then retired in 2022 to pursue his "Plan A" of making a positive impact in the world full-time.
Your Best Never Comes Easy. People ask how Shaquem Griffin defied the odds to play collegiate football. How he managed to become the ACC “Defensive Player of the Year,” despite having just one hand. They’re amazed that he made history playing in the NFL—the world’s most competitive professional sports league, which honored him with the “NFL Game Changer Award.” Answers include the Griffin family values—their unconditional support and sacrifice for each other. Answers include the unbreakable bond between Shaquem and his twin brother, Shaquille, and the pledge they made at the age of eight to stand by each other, come hell or high water. And answers include Shaquem Griffin himself. In his own humble words, “Nothing Comes Easy”—and his belief that nothing worth having comes without some sort of fight. It’s an almost unbelievable success story—anchored by family and driven by commitment, belief, and purpose.
Never Doubt Yourself. Shaquem will speak to the audience about the adversity thrown at him his entire life and how he overcame these challenges to be successful in the NFL. He will share life lessons around believing in yourself when no one else does, how to be confident in all aspects of your life, and the importance of a positive mindset and attitude