Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald left the University of Pittsburgh following his sophomore season back in 2003.
At that time, Fitzgerald was considered a sure-fire first-round pick, so it made perfect sense for him not to hang around, especially after the NFL granted him an exemption to enter the draft after just two years of college ball.
The future Hall of Fame receiver was eventually selected third overall by the Cardinals the following spring, setting into motion what would end up being one of the best careers a wide receiver has seen in the NFL.
Despite nine Pro Bowl appearances and countless accolades, both on and off the field, Fitzgerald was missing something up until this weekend.
He never fulfilled the promise he made to his late mother to graduate from college.
As Fitzgerald noted in a Q&A with ESPN, his mother Carol, who passed away back in 2003, made sure to teach her son the lessons of a good education:
“Education is one thing nobody can ever take from you,” she once told him. “I know you have a passion to play ball, but education is something you can carry for the rest of your life.”
And now, Fitzgerald can carry that for the rest of his life.
The Cardinals’ receiver graduated from the University of Phoenix with a bachelor’s degree in communications on Saturday.
For Fitzgerald, it was a long road to complete a promise he made to his mother. After receiving his diploma, the 32-year-old pass catcher joked that he can finally shake “the 15-year college student stigma.”