WATCH: T.J. Ford returns to Texas for graduation, embraced by Rick Barnes

Deborah Cannon/American-Statesman Texas coach Rick Barnes talks with T.J. Ford during their game against Kansas State in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday, March 4, 2003. **for barnes and ford stories**

T.J. Ford was only at the University of Texas for two years, but made quite an impression. His jersey is one of only three retired by the men’s basketball program, along with Basketball Hall of Famer Slater Martin and future Hall of Famer Kevin Durant.

Following his sophomore year, Ford entered the NBA Draft. But he returned to the school to complete his education and on Friday, he graduated. The ceremony was witnessed in person by his coach with the Longhorns, Rick Barnes.

“Proud is and understatement but he deserves it more than anybody,” Barnes said of Ford. “He called me about a month-and-a-half ago and said, ‘coach, I’m walking,’ and he said ‘you better be there’ and I said ‘I wouldn’t miss it for anything.’ I love him.”

The two then shared an emotional embrace. You can see the whole exchange here.

When an athlete spends only a year or two at a school, it’s often hard to tell just how much of an impact was made. But in the case of Barnes and Texas, it’s clear that Ford’s impact was immense.