DALLAS (FWAA) UCF's Shaquem Griffin is
this week's nominee for the 2016 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA
Griffin has played football with one hand since he was 4
years old, as doctors amputated his left hand then as a result
of amniotic band syndrome, a congenital birth defect.
The 6-foot-1, 213-pound linebacker has enjoyed a breakout
campaign for the Knights, as he leads the American Athletic
Conference in sacks (8.5) and is third in tackles for loss (12).
The redshirt junior also leads UCF with two forced fumbles and
is second on the team in tackles (58).
Griffin who has started all eight games this season along
with his twin brother, cornerback Shaquill Griffin delivered a
standout performance in this past Saturday's game at Houston,
posting team-bests of 14 tackles, three tackles for loss, 2.5
sacks and one fumble recovery. He also recorded his first career
interception, and he earned league defensive player of the week
honors for his efforts.
"It's an amazing feeling," Griffin said after the game of
inspiring others, according to the Orlando Sentinel. "It's a
feeling that everybody can't have and I'm blessed to have that
type of feeling to be that faith, that positivity, that
inspiration for others and not just for young people but for
older people, men and women. It's just a blessing for me and I
wouldn't change it for [anything] in the world."
Kema-Kaleiwahea grew up on Oahu as the oldest in an adoptive
family of six kids. After receiving a football scholarship to
the University of Arizona, his family followed him to Tucson,
Ariz. Soon after, at the age of 18, he learned his five siblings
were in an abusive environment and he became their caregiver,
even though he was a full-time student-athlete.
After marrying in 2014, he and his wife, Brianna, found
assistance from extended family members, who adopted three of
the children. Makani and Brianna adopted his other two siblings.
Kema-Kaleiwahea and his family returned home in 2015, as Makani
transferred to Hawaii to bring the siblings and extended family
A 6-3, 240-pound redshirt senior lineman, Kema-Kaleiwahea has
27 tackles this season, including two sacks. The defensive
lineman has started all eight games for the Rainbow Warriors,
and he tallied four stops in this past Saturdays 34-27
double-overtime upset win at Air Force.
The Courage Award was first presented by the
Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) in 2002. A select
group of writers from the FWAA vote on the winner each year. The
requirements for nomination include displaying courage on or off
the field, including overcoming an injury or physical handicap,
preventing a disaster or living through hardship. The winner of
the award will be included in festivities during Capital One Orange
Bowl week and receive his trophy at an on-field presentation.
Previous winners of the Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage
Award are Miami offensive lineman Hunter Knighton (2015), Duke offensive
lineman Laken Tomlinson (2014), San Jose State defensive lineman
Anthony Larceval (2013), Clemson wide receiver Daniel Rodriguez
(2012), Michigan State offensive lineman Arthur Ray Jr. (2011),
Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand (2010), the University of
Connecticut football team (2009), Tulsa's Wilson Holloway (2008),
Navy's Zerbin Singleton (2007), Clemson's Ray Ray McElrathbey (2006),
the Tulane football team (2005), Memphis' Haracio Colen (2004),
San Jose State's Neil Parry (2003) and Toledo's William Bratton
About the Orange Bowl
The Orange Bowl is
a 360-member, primarily-volunteer non-profit sports organization
that promotes and serves the South Florida community. With its primary
mission since being created in 1935 to bring tourism to South Florida
through an annual football game and events, it has also maintained
a legacy of charitable contributions and community outreach. Orange
Bowl community outreach efforts are comprised of four pillars: youth
sports, fundraising and community events, academic programs and
scholarships, and legacy gifts. The Orange Bowl features a year-round
schedule of events culminating with the Capital One Orange Bowl
on December 30, 2016. For more information on the 2016-17 Orange
Bowl events, including promotional and volunteer opportunities through
the Ambassador Program presented by Panera Bread, log on to
Follow Orange Bowl:
Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of 1,400 men and women who cover college football.
The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key
executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas
that include game-day operations, major awards and its annual All-America team.
For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson
Editor's note: To download a print-quality photo
of Shaquem Griffin, click on the photo within the release.
2016 Orange Bowl Courage Award Nominees
Sept. 14: James Conner, Pittsburgh
Sept. 21: Caylin Moore, TCU
Sept. 28: Riley Sorenson, Washington State
Oct. 5: Vincent Taylor, Oklahoma State
Oct. 12: Frank Ragnow, Arkansas
Oct. 19: Mulbah Car, Houston
Oct. 26: Makani Kema-Kaleiwahea, Hawaii
Nov. 2: Shaquem Griffin, UCF
Nov. 9: Tim White, Arizona State
Nov. 16: Adam Ploudre, Missouri
Nov. 23: Mike Sherels, Minnesota
Dec. 1: Quinton Flowers, USF
One Orange Bowl Courage Award