Inspirational One-Handed Linebacker Shaquem Griffin Wants to Be Like Ray Lewis


When Ray Lewis would show up to his son's track meets, there were surely a lot of eyes on the legendary Ravens linebacker.

One of those watching was Shaquem Griffin.

Griffin was born with amniotic band syndrome, which became so painful that he had his left hand amputated at age 4.

Now the Central Florida linebacker is one of the biggest darlings of the entire 2018 draft class and a prospect with skyrocketing stock after this weekend's NFL Scouting Combine – an event for which he originally wasn't invited.

Inspirational? You bet. Just like his idol.

"I would see [Lewis] walking around, and I would think, 'I want to be like that one day,'" Griffin said.

"Me being able to do this now, and being able to have an impact on those outside looking in, I think I'm getting close to being able to do things like he did."

Griffin pointed out that he doesn't play the same way as the Hall of Fame linebacker – at least not yet – but that it's more about emulating his kind of leadership.

"Not only having relentless effort, and have his team pull with him, but an inspiration," Griffin said.

Griffin certainly inspired those watching his Combine performance.

He's the twin brother of Seattle Seahawks cornerback Shaquill Griffin, who was a third-round pick a year ago and went on to have a stellar rookie season.

On Sunday, Shaquem, who significantly outweighs his brother, ran the exact same time in the 40-yard dash – 4.38 seconds. It's the fastest time any linebacker has ever recorded at the Combine.

Asked what he was thinking when he stepped up to run, Shaquem said, "Beat my brother."

"He said I couldn't do it," Shaquem explained. "I guess I was against all odds once more."

Griffin also put up an amazing 20 bench press reps while using a prosthetic hand. When he first started training for the Combine, he maxed out at 11.

"Just being able to do that, it was amazing," Griffin said. "Hearing the crowd and getting the juices flowing; I felt it. I didn't know I had it in me."

Griffin is proving he's much more than just a great story. The 2016 American Athletic Conference (AAC) Defensive Player of the Year didn't even get an invite to the Combine until after he wowed everybody at the Senior Bowl last month.

Now he's gone from perhaps being a priority undrafted free agent to one NFL coach saying he could be a fourth-round pick.

The question remaining on Griffin is what position he'll play at the next level. He measured in at just over 6-foot-0 and 227 pounds, which makes him shorter than most outside linebackers and lighter than inside linebackers. By comparison, Lewis was 6-foot-1, 240 pounds.

Griffin will also work out at safety, and could turn into a hybrid kind of linebacker that's asked to defend against the pass and rush the passer. He had 18.5 sacks and 33.5 tackles for loss over his final two seasons at Central Florida. His speed and effort jump off the tape.

Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome has gotten a good look at Griffin. He said he noticed him while watching TV, has looked at his tape and saw him at the Senior Bowl.

"The thing with any player is how you play and what's on tape," Newsome said. "And he has good tape."

Now Griffin has the Combine performance and sheer athleticism to also back it up. The next chapter will be seeing which NFL city he'll go to, and how many more people he can touch.

"I hope I inspire a lot," Griffin said. "I always tell everybody, if I can inspire one, and they can inspire another then we can inspire a thousand later. If I keep doing what I'm doing now, I can change the minds of a lot of people later."

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