Marcus Camby celebrates UMass degree as John Calipari looks on

Marcus Camby saw a familiar face in the crowd during his graduation ceremony at the University of Massachusetts -- his former Minutemen basketball coach, John Calipari.

Some 24 years after first enrolling at UMass, Camby on Friday received his degree at the school where he became a basketball great.

Calipari, now head coach at Kentucky, and Camby guided the Minutemen to their first Final Four appearance in 1996.

Although that Final Four run was later vacated after it was discovered Camby had accepted money and gifts from agents, the 43-year-old former NBA center said he remains close with Calipari.

"It meant a lot to him," Camby told the Daily Hampshire Gazette, referring to his former coach. "He's excited. He said he wouldn't miss it for the world. We share a lifelong bond, and I wanted him to be part of it."

Camby told the Gazette that he took online courses over the past two years to finish his UMass degree. He sent the first invitation to his graduation to his mother. The second went to Calipari.

"Being a parent, I've always stressed education," he told the Gazette. "Now my kids can see their dad as a college graduate. My oldest will be in high school next year. I want her to go to UMass."