The first stop of Shaquem Griffin’s daylong visit to ESPN was at the Get Up! studios at New York’s Pier 17 South Street Seaport. When he arrived, there was a young man there to greet him – eight-year-old Jackson Connors, son of Skip Connors and Rachel Roberge.
Jackson, like Griffin, the NFL Draft prospect out of the University of Central Florida, is missing a hand (Jackson was born without a right hand, Griffin’s left hand was amputated when he was four-years-old). The similarities don’t stop there, as this brief discussion confirms:
— Get Up (@Get_Up) April 19, 2018
The meeting was the result of a friendship between Skip Connors and Get Up! executive producer Bill Wolff.
“Our sons play in the same youth basketball league, and our wives know each other as well,” Skip told Front Row. “It was an awesome opportunity for Jackson to meet someone who has experienced similar things to him.”
When Skip shared a few of Connor’s basketball videos (see below), Skip said Shaquem was blown away.
“He watched and said, ‘[Damn] I can’t do that!'” Skip said. “And then [Get Up! co-host] Jalen Rose, a lefty like Jackson, came over and said, ‘I couldn’t do that when I was eight!’ He told him, ‘Look, man, us lefties got to stick together.'”
Jackson has previously met Jim Abbott, and Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari is a longtime friend of the Connors family.
“Having Jackson be able to meet people like Shaquem reinforces the hope for a parent that, ‘Hey, your child is going to be OK. He’s going to make it,'” Skip said. “All these other athletes have done it ahead of Jackson.
“He can see those guys and how they accomplish incredible things,” he said. “It keeps him motivated and working hard. Shaquem told him, ‘Do the best you can, don’t let anyone tell you [that] you can’t. In my family [Shaquem is a twin with Seattle Seahawks cornerback Shaquill Griffin], I was the first one to tie my shoe and the first to climb a tree.’
“Jackson loved it,” Skip said. “As we were leaving he said, ‘Daddy, I want to see Shaquem again!'”
For now, Jackson and all fans can see Shaquem on a series of ESPN shows today including NFL Live and SportsCenter.
Skip Connors provided the video of Jackson Connors in action.