All Seattle Seahawks rookie cornerback Shaquill Griffin can remember is frantic screaming and crying that started in the hallway and made its way to the kitchen.
Everything else, he says, is a blur.
Shaquill and his twin brother, Shaquem, were 4 years old and had just settled into their usual spots for bedtime that June night in St. Petersburg, Florida. Shaquill was on the top bunk and Shaquem on the bottom.
Around 1 a.m., Shaquem got up, exited their room and made two right turns. The pain in his left hand had become too much, and he was going to do something about it.
Shaquem suffered from amniotic band syndrome, and the five fingers in his left hand hadn't formed fully. Often when Shaquem would catch a ball awkwardly, lean against the wall or bump into his bed frame, he felt a sharp pain in his fingers.
"It's something that you can’t forget," Shaquill said nearly 18 years later.
The twins' mom, Tangie, often asked God to take the pain away from her little boy and pass it to her. She didn't know what else to do.
That night, she heard Shaquem take off toward the kitchen, and she jumped out of bed. But Shaquem was fast. She heard the drawers opening and closing as she ran after him. Tangie found her son with a knife in his hand.
"As he’s grabbing the knife, I grabbed it out of his hand," Tangie said. "And he said, ‘Just cut them off! I just want to cut them off! I can’t take it! It hurts! Cut it off!'
"And I just grabbed him and was holding him. I’m crying, and he’s crying. His Dad [Terry] is just trying to hold his tears back."
Shaquill didn't know if he should hide underneath the covers or get up and see what was going on. He stayed put.
The next morning, Shaquem didn't go to preschool with Shaquill. Instead, Tangie and Terry took him to the hospital to have his fingers removed.
"When it got to the point where it was so bad that I saw him literally grab a knife to cut his hand off, I knew at that point, it was time to do something," Tangie said.
Added Shaquem, "I guess I kind of gave a hint to my mom."
Shaquem doesn't remember much about the surgery. One minute, he was pulling his red wagon down the hospital hallway. The next, he was waking up with his hand bandaged. A day later, Shaquem was outside playing football with his brother.
"Ever since that procedure, he’s been able to do everything else anyone could do," Shaquill said.
'We weren't going to let anybody separate us'
Shaquill and Shaquem formulated a plan around the age of 10. They would go to high school and college together. They'd marry another set of twins. They'd pool their money to buy a house and live in it together with their families.
Tangie never believed they were serious until Shaquill started getting recruited heavily in high school.
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