VetFamily: Robert Griffin III, Heisman Trophy Winner and Army Brat

Robert Griffin

After a breakthrough rookie season for the Washington Redskins, Robert Griffin III is overcoming an injury that would have threatened the careers of those a generation before him. Thankfully, he is bolstered by an inner strength that comes from his loving parents, both of whom served in the US Army.

"Mom did 12 years, Dad did 21, served in two wars. Discipline was something that was obviously huge," he said at the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine, the official test drive for pro team scouts before the annual draft. "If you say you’re going to do something, you do it. If you start it, you finish it. ‘Yes, sir’; ‘no, ma’am.’ You’ve got to have that kind of structure in your life."

That was enough for the Redskins, who chose Robert Griffin III, nicknamed "RG3," as their first-round pick, and second selection overall.

A military brat, Griffin was born in Okinawa, Japan, where his parents, Robert Jr. and Jacqueline, both U.S. Army sergeants, were stationed. The family later lived at Fort Lewis near Tacoma, Washington, and then moved to New Orleans. Other stations included Fort Carson, Colorado, Seoul, Korea and Fort Hood, where Jackie and Robert II were able to finish their college degrees. They finally settled in Copperas Cove, Texas, an hour’s drive from Baylor University, where RG3 rose to national prominence.

The second Robert Griffin spent 21 years in the U.S. Army working his way from enlistee to sergeant first class, and served in two wars. When he was deployed to  Iraq, RG3 was just 13 years old, and mom began to shoulder the burden of the military spouse. From Junior High to High School to College, RG3’s was always there for him. Jackie attended virtually every practice and game for RG3. She compiled videos of practices and games and sent them to dad for analysis.

"Robert was willing to put in the hard work, and he trusted his dad’s instruction because every time his dad told him something and he did it, he got better; he got stronger; he got faster," Jackie told the Washington Times. "So when kids see results, and you know your parent loves you and you see results in what they’re telling you every time you do it, you’re going to be more eager to be obedient toward that."

Washington Redskins football player Robert Griffin III, left, also known as RG3, and his parents, Robert Griffin Jr. and Jackie Griffin, participate in the 2013 National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C., May 27, 2013.Washington Redskins football player Robert Griffin III, left, also known as RG3, and his parents, Robert Griffin Jr. and Jackie Griffin, participate in the 2013 National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C., May 27, 2013.

"The only thing Robert did was homework and play ball," Copperas Cove High School football coach Jack Welch told the Washington Post. "He was very grounded, very rooted."

He was also a gifted and multi-talented athlete. Griffin starred on the Baylor track and field squad during the 2008 spring semester, earning All-American honors after winning the Big 12 Conference championship in the 400-meter hurdles (49.22 seconds). He placed 11th in the 400-meter hurdles (49.38 seconds) at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials that summer, but soon gave up competitive running to concentrate on football full time.

The 2011 season at Baylor marked the emergence of "RG3" in the national spotlight. Griffin finished with 4,293 passing yards and 37 touchdowns against just six interceptions, and ran for another 699 yards and 10 touchdowns, overwhelming numbers that earned him the Heisman Memorial Trophy as college football's top player.

Griffin graduated in December 2011, a semester early, with a degree in political science. The Washington Redskins selected him with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.

After a standout rookie 2012 season for the Redskins, RG3 suffered a knee injury in his first playoff game. He has since recovered from surgery on two ligaments and was able to play the season opener with a brace on his right knee. While the Redskins lost to the Eagles, 33-27, it was a thrilling game where RG3 completed 60% of his passes, a career high, throwing for two touchdowns and two interceptions.

RGIII refused to attribute his performance in the loss to rustiness recovering from injury:

"I think that’s an excuse," Griffin said. "I’m responsible for the way I play. I didn’t play very well in the first half. So that’s just the way it is. You move on from it. I’m not gonna sit here and say I was rusty. I’ve got to be accountable and I’m going to be accountable for that. I didn’t play well in the first half. We came back and played better in the second half. We’ve just got to do it for 60 minutes."

Mom & Dad would have said the same thing.

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