NFL player Larry Fitzgerald left the University of Pittsburgh early to fulfill his dreams of becoming a professional football player. Now the wide receiver can say he has fulfilled his mother’s dreams by becoming a college graduate.
“I’m glad I can finally shake the 15-year college student stigma,” Fitzgerald said to ESPN.
Fitzgerald left school after his sophomore season and was drafted third overall in 2004 by the Arizona Cardinals. Yet in the back of his mind were the words of his mother, who stressed the importance of education.
“Education is one thing nobody can ever take from you. I know you have a passion to play ball, but education is something you can carry for the rest of your life,” said Carol Fitzgerald.
Carol Fitzgerald passed away from breast cancer at the age of 47 in 2003 and reiterated her wish for her son to finish his college education.
Fitzgerald enrolled at the University of Phoenix where he majored in communications and minored in marketing. The 32-year-old Minnesota native worked all year round—in between and during seasons, trips overseas to Ethiopia and Brazil, to finish up his degree.
“I wanted to make sure I was doing what I promised her I’d do,” Fitzgerald said.
As most athletes look to become an analyst or work in the television sector once retired from the sport, Fitzgerald believes his choice in major will allow him that opportunity.
“They’re skills I think are essential for life,” he said.
While he is some years away from retiring and possibly joining the NFL family of Hall-of-Famers, the gifted athlete is pleased to join his family of college graduates.
“I was the only one in my family who hadn’t graduated,” Fitzgerald said. “So now, finally being able to graduate, I’m part of the family now, for real.”