LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Former University of Louisville football wide receiver Deion Branch is officially a college graduate. The two-time Super Bowl champion earned his bachelor of arts degree in communications Friday more than 18 years after leaving the university to play in the NFL.
“I left school for a great reason, you know, to go off and chase my childhood dream, playing football,” Branch said. “I left school with six classes, and my mom was down my back for years like, ‘Deion, when are you going to get your degree?’ And I’m like, ‘Mom, we’re good. You’re good. I’ll pay for everything,’ She don’t care about that. The most important thing is taking care of that degree.”
Branch was an all-conference wide receiver for UofL from 2000 to 2001.
He was the No. 65 pick in the second round of the 2002 NFL Draft. He played 11 seasons for the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks and was MVP of Super Bowl XXXIX with the Patriots.
He was inducted into the Kentucky Hall of Fame in June.
Even with all that success, he knew there was some unfinished business.
“Not only is it so important for my mom, but now as a father, I get to push this down to my kids to have an opportunity to see their dad walk across the stage and it’s a beautiful thing,” Branch said.
Eighteen years after leaving UofL, Branch walked across the stage at the KFC Yum! Center to receive his diploma thanks in large part to the Cardinal Degree Completion program, which helps former student-athletes who exhausted their athletic scholarship eligibility.
Branch was one of eight former UofL student-athletes to earn their degrees through the program on Friday.
“Chase and stick to whatever you want in life,” Branch said. “I know I left school 18 years ago but I came back and finished it and they can do the same thing. I’m always saying it’s way overdue, but it’s never too late. It’s never too late to get that education and more importantly, stay in school and finish it when you first start it.”