It's not often that you hear about the fans of a football team wanting to meet with one of the players of the opposing team, especially right before a big bowl game.
But that's what happened recently when University of Central Florida senior linebacker Shaquem Griffin met Matt and Amanda Davis, along with their two 19-month-old twin sons, Jordan and John.
The Davis' are both Auburn fans and of course, would cheer for the Tigers when UCF played them in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta. However, it's Griffin they really wanted to meet, because his abilities both on and off the field have inspired them.
Griffin was the winner of this year's Football Bowl Subdivision 2017 Senior CLASS award, which recognizes outstanding work on the football field, in the classroom and in the community. Each year, coaches, members of the media and fans vote for the recipient.
"It's truly an honor to receive this award," Griffin told the Orlando Sentinel. "A lot of people in our generation like to make excuses for little things. It always comes down to the work ethic for me. God put everyone on the earth for a purpose, and I feel like my purpose is to get away from people making excuses."
Both Auburn fans, the Davis's had read the story about how Griffin and his twin brother Shaquill had overcome the same congenital birth defect shared by their two twin sons— amniotic band syndrome — that caused Griffin to have his left hand amputated when he was 4. Jordan and John were also born just 60 seconds apart -- just like Griffin and his brother.
Neither Matt or Amanda had ever heard of the syndrome before the birth of their boys.
"With us both being very athletic, of course, that was my first thought was how is this going to affect his sports? From gripping a baseball or football to really, how is he going to do anything," Davis told the newspaper.
Matt's mother had told him about a UCF football player who had become an elite player, despite complications from amniotic band syndrome.
The Davis' have become Griffin's biggest fans.
"From reading his story, Jordan's issues seem so comparable," Matt told the newspaper. "It's amazing. It's too much for words really."
"We're really looking forward to the chance that Jordan is going to have to look back on this and we're kind of pulling inspiration from it," Amanda said
Griffin says his mission has always been to inspire others.
"Everything I've been doing, working hard and fighting adversity and going over different barriers, it goes to show that me doing that can help others," Griffin told the newspaper. "Like I always say, me helping somebody else can help another and I'm going to stick to that. I'm always going to have doubters. My whole thing is to make sure I keep proving doubters wrong. If I can do so, anybody can."
"I never feel like anything I have is a disability because I can do anything I put my mind to," he said.
And as for the game played Jan. 1, the UCF Knights beat the Auburn Tigers in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl 34-27.