Shaquem Griffin, a University of Central Florida linebacker, was last season’s American Athletic Conference defensive player of the year. Since earning his starting job last year, he has three fumble recoveries and an interception.
Granted, this is great football, but what’s amazing is that Griffin has only one hand. He was born with a problem with his left hand, and, at age 4, the hand was amputated.
I admit, Griffin and his story were not on my radar. I watched the Peach Bowl only because UCF’s coach was Scott Frost. Being a huge Cornhusker fan, I was excited to watch him hopefully take his team to 13-0.
There on the field appeared this powerhouse linebacker with only one hand. My husband also was watching the game and never noticed until I pointed it out. Discussing the game with my parents, they, too, never noticed.
What a testament to “see my abilities, not my disabilities.” Griffin is a great example of someone who doesn’t let a disability stop him or even slow him down.
“A lot of people in our generation like to make excuses about little things that really don't hinder them from doing what they want to," Griffin told Sports Illustrated. "It always comes down to the work ethic. God put you on the Earth for a purpose. I feel like my purpose is to get away from people making excuses. ... You're not disabled unless you say 'I'm disabled.'"
All of us – people with and without disabilities – should emulate that attitude. Kudos to Coach Scott Frost for seeing ability, not disability.
Kathy Kay, Lincoln
Co-CEO, League of Human Dignity