Larry Fitzgerald fulfills promise to mom by graduating from college

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Larry Fitzgerald added another honor to his already prolific resume on Saturday.

College graduate.

The Arizona Cardinals wide receiver graduated Saturday from the University of Phoenix, majoring in communications and minoring in marketing. It was the end of an educational odyssey that has taken more than a decade since he enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh in 2002.

“I’m glad I can finally shake the 15-year college student stigma,” Fitzgerald joked to ESPN.

Fitzgerald left Pitt after his sophomore season and was drafted third overall in 2004 by the Cardinals. While he put college on hold to pursue his NFL career, Fitzgerald never forgot the promise he made to his mother, Carol.

Before Carol died in 2003 from breast cancer, she told Larry: “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.”

Larry told his mother he would get his college degree and spent the past 13 years working toward it.

He worked on classes year-round, including during the season, and logged in around the world, he said, during his international trips that ranged from Ethiopia to Brazil.

“I wanted to make sure I was doing what I promised her I’d do,” Fitzgerald said.

He chose communications and marketing because Fitzgerald believes they give him a foundation for a wide range of potential careers -- including joining the media.

“They’re skills I think are essential for life,” he said.

While the Hall of Fame is still a handful of years away, Fitzgerald joined another elite club by graduating on Saturday.

“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.”