Why This Boy Had An Emotional Reaction To Getting His Favorite NFL Player’s Jersey

"He's like me and he can do stuff I can ..."

When Daniel Carrillo opened up his birthday gift this year, the 11-year-old was brought to tears. That's because the gift was a Seattle Seahawks No. 49 jersey, which is worn by linebacker Shaquem Griffin. And, just like Griffin, Daniel has one hand. 

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Daniel was born with one hand and Griffin — who was born with a condition that prevented the fingers on his left hand from fully developing — had his amputated. Griffin became the first one-handed football player to be drafted to the NFL during the Super Bowl era.

In a now-viral video shared on social media, Daniel can be seen taking the jersey out of a gift bag and immediately breaking down.

"Put it on!" someone says off-camera. Daniel then stands up, still clearly emotional, and dons the jersey, smiling and crying at the camera. 

The video made it all the way to Griffin, who, after watching it, felt inclined to record a special message for Daniel.

"Hey, what's up, Daniel? Shaquem here. I just wanted to say happy birthday," Griffin says in his message. "I saw the video, it was very touching. I had to stop watching because I'm around a lot of fans and stuff, but it was very touching, man. Hopefully, we can get you down to a game or something. Hope I can meet you one day. I'll be seeing you soon, Daniel. Happy birthday again."

In an interview with CNN, Daniel says that he's inspired by Griffin. "He's like me and he can do stuff I can with one hand" he adds.

"It's one of the things that we really appreciate about Shaquem is showing everyone that he can do anything and nothing's going to stop him," Daniel's mother Maylissa says. "It gives Daniel that inspiration to do the same things."

In 2018, Griffin penned a letter for The Player's Tribune to the National Football League's general managers. In it, he explained that growing up, he was told that football was only for two-handed players. "This was the first time I ever had to deal with somebody telling me I shouldn't — or couldn't — do something because of my hand. Like I was defective or something. Like I didn't belong. And that was the moment I realized I was always going to have to prove people wrong."

"I'm blessed to have thick skin," he wrote. "But I'm even more blessed to have a family that never let me make excuses and who raised me to never listen to anybody who told me I couldn't do something — especially because of my hand."

He came to understand that "nobody was ever going to tell me that I didn't belong on a football field. And nobody was ever going to tell me that I couldn't be great."

Later in the letter, Griffin addressed others who have birth defects:

"I've had people doubt me my whole life, and I know that there are a lot of kids out there with various deformities or birth defects or whatever labels people want to put on them, and they're going to be doubted, too. And I'm convinced that God has put me on this earth for a reason, and that reason is to show people that it doesn't matter what anybody else says, because people are going to doubt you regardless. That's a fact of life for everybody, but especially for those with birth defects or other so-called disabilities. The important thing is that you don't doubt yourself. I feel like all the boys and girls out there with birth defects … we have our own little nation, and we've got to support each other, because everybody in this world deserves to show what they can do without anybody telling them they can't."

In April, Griffin was selected 141st overall by the Seattle Seahawks in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. 

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