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A Brother’s Belief

Shaquill Griffin (left) is his twin brother’s biggest fan. Shaquem, who had one hand amputated as a child, has made a name for himself on the Knights football team, recording 92 total tackles in 2016 and being nominated for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team this year. University Of Central Florida photo

Shaquill Griffin emerged from his mother’s womb only about a minute before Shaquem — but Shaquill has watched over his brother ever since. Children who mocked Shaquem for the stump that an amputated hand left behind soon acquainted themselves with Shaquill’s ire. And when college football coaches came calling, Shaquill insisted he wasn’t going anywhere without Shaquem. The twins accepted offers to the University of Central Florida, and for three years, as Shaquem sat and watched and brooded, his brother protected him from his own doubts. “When your time comes,” Shaquill told Shaquem, “I know you’re going to be great.” And he was. Last year, Shaquem, in his first season as a starter at linebacker, was named American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year. This fall, Shaquill is 2,500 miles away, playing cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks. But a brother’s faith is being paid forward in Orlando. Shaquem encourages young teammates, constantly cajoling them to believe in themselves. “Now I can give that back to the younger guys,” he says.

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Champion magazine goes behind the headlines and beyond the scoreboards to celebrate the unique connection between Americans and college sports. Champion is published by the NCAA.

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