By Nora Hakramaj
Scroll down for the full story
Videographer / director: Adam Gray
Producer: Nora Hakramaj, Ed Baranski
Editor: Grant Hanson-Vaux
Isaiah Griffin, 23, from Wichita, Kansas, noticed his first keloid - a benign growth caused when the body over heals itself - on his leg aged 17.
The condition gave Isaiah extremely low self-esteem, to the point where he couldn’t bear to look at his own reflection in the mirror.
But with numerous hours at the gym spent lifting heavy weights, bodybuilding helped him regain his confidence again.
Isaiah said: “When I first got keloids, I didn’t understand what it was or how I got them, they just started to pop up.
“I thought it was just a cyst and I was okay with it. I didn’t think too much of it until they started to connect around my chest.
“There was a point where I had to turn off the lights because every time I looked at myself in the mirror I wouldn’t like what I saw.
“It hit me to a point where I kind of stopped being myself. I was really scared about what people would say and what people would think. So I would hide in like a shell.”
Research suggests the formation of keloids may be genetic, and Isaiah believes he inherited the condition from his mum, who has them on her chest and ears.
While his keloids fuelled his insecurities, his passion for lifting weights allowed him to show off his muscular physique by competing in bodybuilding competitions - winning third place in his very first one.
Isaiah said: “At my first show I don’t think I was nervous. I was just ready. I was really just ready to get on stage and get it done. When I achieved it, it was overwhelming.
“Bodybuilding changed my life to where I can feel good about myself, increase my confidence in myself, be proud of who I am and really start to see who I am and not what happened to me and not let that stop me.”
His father Hannibal Griffin, 47, is one of his biggest supporters and pushed his son to continue competing.
Isaiah said: “His main words that got me started was he said 'you're either going do it or you’re not' and that really just pushed me.
“I recently competed in 2017 for the light heavyweight category in a national event. I came in 5th place in this but I believe this was my best one, my best preparation mentally as well as physically, and I look forward to the years to come.”
Hannibal said: “Not only will Isaiah be a great competitor but he’s also a person who helps other people.
“When they see someone like Isaiah step out on the stage, talk openly about his keloids and his issues and his battle with keloids, it encourages them to step out as well."
Although Isaiah does enjoy chest exercises, his biggest web-like keloid on his chest often prevents him from lifting heavy weights, since it can lead to bleeding and bursting.
Isaiah said: “The only thing I’m not able to do really as far as my keloids is chest flies. Chest flies creates a fear. Sometimes they would bleed to where I might not able to work out that day because of it.”
Nevertheless Isaiah has his sights set on becoming a World Natural Bodybuilding Champion and will stop at nothing to achieve his title.
Isaiah said: “I would say to anyone who has this condition, to first accept it and trust in God that this is who he created.
“You only have one life to live and at the end of the day you have to look yourself in the mirror and say, 'Okay this is me, this is what I have to accept.'
“With the keloids and the bodybuilding, I just hope that I can elevate some change in anyone’s thoughts as well as give some encouragement, to make sure that you go for what you want in life no matter what happens.”