SEATTLE – Shaquill and Shaquem Griffin are already two of the most recognized – and beloved – players on the Seattle Seahawks’ roster.
Between the brothers’ obvious bond with each other, the joy they obviously take in playing football, and Shaquem’s ability to overcome the odds and become the NFL’s first one-handed player, it’s not hard to see why.
Q13 News spent some time with the twins and their father, Terry, to find out what it was like growing up in the Griffin house.
Terry said he began challenging the boys at a young age, an approach the brothers believe played a role in them realizing their dreams.
“I feel like for the most part, I was well prepared for life,” Shaquem said.
Terry believed Shaquem, who had his hand amputated at the age of 4 due to a rare birth defect, could compete at a high level despite the challenge.
“No excuses,” Terry said. “You know, never gave him an excuse. This is what you can do.”
Shaquem said Terry was there pushing the twins every step of the way.
“Every time we’re working out, or doing anything extra at night, he used to sit right there and watch us do it,” Shaquem said. “Or when we got to do two- or three-mile runs, he’s on the bike following us.”
Terry’s commitment is part of a new national ad campaign from Gillette, which features the Griffin family. He vividly remembers a time the brothers were headed to a school dance.
“I said, ‘you’re not ready,’” Terry said. “They’re looking at me like I’m ready to say ‘you can’t go.’ I said ‘you’re not ready.’ I said, ‘you got to get ready for the girls, man.’ They said ‘get ready for the girls?’ I said, ‘you got to get pumped!’ They were like ‘pumped?’
“So we go into the garage and we got the dumbbells. I got ‘em out there. ‘Rah, rah, rah.’ They were like this, ‘ohhh.’”
That wasn’t Terry’s only romantic advice, but it might’ve been among the more helpful.
“He used to say, ‘If you do 200 calf extensions in the shower, you’re going to have girls behind you saying “look at his calves,”’ Shaquem said. “It never happened, not once, but I did my calf extensions.”
Over time though, it was the brothers who were pushing themselves and each other. They’d need that toughness after they enrolled at the University of Central Florida and coach George O’Leary told Shaquem he’d need to either red-shirt or transfer to a junior college.
He left his brother and new school, returning home.
“They were saying there wasn’t a spot for me,” Shaquem said. “UCF wasn’t a fit for me. And my brother vouched for me.”
His brother did vouch for him, to new coach Scott Frost. Frost took over the program in 2016, and Shaquem returned and flourished. Eventually, he’d become defensive player of the year in the American Athletic Conference and lead the Knights to a Peach Bowl victory over Auburn.
The family has had plenty of reason to celebrate the last couple years, as Shaquill and Shaquem were drafted by the Seahawks in consecutive Aprils.
“To watch your kids’ dream come true – heart stopping,” Terry said.