Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald takes a breather during Tuesday's OTA, his first practice since earning a college degree.
When Larry Fitzgerald was a boy, he once was playing on a basketball team – a very bad basketball team.
"I wanted to quit so bad," Fitzgerald said.
He didn't. His father, Larry Fitzgerald Sr., wouldn't allow it, telling his son "that's not how we do it" and that anything a Fitzgerald started, he needed to finish. That's the notion that kept Fitzgerald pushing toward a college degree, which he finally earned this spring from the University of Phoenix.
Fitzgerald got his degree in communications with a minor in marketing, ending a slow journey that began in 2002 at the University of Pittsburgh.
"It's taken a lot of time, obviously, but I am just happy I was able to stick through it," Fitzgerald said.
It's not like Fitzgerald needed a degree – "Many times, I thought that," Fitzgerald said with a smile –
given his NFL success. He has collected about $130 million in contracts alone from the Cardinals, and that doesn't include millions more in endorsements.
"I am proud and honored by all of our graduates at University of Phoenix, and am thrilled to count Larry Fitzgerald as alumni of University of Phoenix," University of Phoenix president Tim Slottow said. "All of our graduates are sculpted by adversity. That's true for Larry Fitzgerald, just as it is for those walking at commencement (last weekend). Having spent time with Larry, I am so impressed with his commitment and tenacity to finish this journey."
Fitzgerald, who has been a University of Phoenix spokesman for a number of years, fulfilled a promise of getting his degree to his mother, Carol, who passed away when Fitzgerald was still at Pitt.
"I'm the only one in my family that didn't have a degree," Fitzgerald said. "My aunts and cousins teasing me, no matter what I accomplished, they didn't care. They saw me as a guy who didn't graduate from college. Now, I can say to them I am finally there. That was a pride thing for me."
Fitzgerald, who turns 33 in August, also likes the idea of showing his two young sons a degree is important regardless of how much money might be in the bank.
Like his father before him, it was important to show his children getting a degree is how the Fitzgeralds do it.
"A lot of times I had to drop classes because I didn't have time to finish them and there have been some ups and downs," Fitzgerald said. "But to stick through it and finally able to get it done, it means a lot. Just to be an example to my kids, when I talk to them about the importance of school, no making excuses, we just get it done. I just hope it serves as a reminder for them."
Enjoy images of Larry Fitzgerald throughout his Cardinals career.