When Stephen Curry verbally committed to Davidson College during a home visit in 2005, “never in a million years” would he have imagined a day like Wednesday would be possible.
Thirteen years after Curry left school for the NBA, the now 34-year-old finally received his Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology from Davidson at a special ceremony, where his legacy was also cemented with an induction into the Davidson Athletics’ Hall of Fame. Curry also became the first player to ever have his jersey number retired at the North Carolina university.
A smile never left Curry’s face as university president Douglas Hicks gave an opening speech, congratulating Curry on graduating. Hicks also managed to slip in a “Night. Night.” reference to Curry’s game-sealing celebration pose, much to the delight of those in attendance.
Curry held back tears as he was handed a black binder that held his diploma. After moving the tassel from one side to the other, Curry threw his cap in the air as the crowd erupted in cheers.
Moments later, Curry received a gold medal in honor of his Hall of Fame induction. Then, surrounded by his wife and children, Curry’s face lit up when they saw his jersey hanging in the rafters of Belk Arena along with eight other alumni.
“This is absolutely an amazing day, an amazing moment for myself, my family,” said Curry, who became the first player in school history to have their number retired, meaning no other men’s basketball player can wear his iconic No. 30 jersey.
Curry said coming to Davidson was the best decision he ever made but leaving was one of his hardest.
During a 14-minute speech, Curry recounted “the most emotional phone call” he ever made to his now-wife, Ayesha, when he was a junior. With the deadline to opt into the NBA Draft fast approaching, Curry, pegged as a potential lottery pick, was feeling overwhelmed.
The star player, whose draft stock rose during a magical Elite Eight run in 2008, didn’t know whether he should stay for one more year or leave.
“It speaks to how much this place means to me, and the impact that the community has had on me and my life,” he said. “I didn’t want to leave.”
Curry decided to follow his heart and opted to forgo his senior season to enter the 2009 NBA Draft, where he was selected No. 7 overall by the Golden State Warriors. And you know what happened next.
But before the draft night, Curry promised to his mother, longtime men’s basketball coach Bob McKillop and Ayesha that he would eventually get his degree.
Curry completed some of the classwork during the 2011 NBA lockout before finishing up his remainder requirements this spring remotely by working with two professors, whom he personally thanked during his speech.
“Didn’t think it would take 13 years but we are here and it mattered to see that through,” Curry said. “And you always said coach, ‘Finish strong,’ right? And I tried to embody that with this process. I try to embody that with everything I’ve done in my career and I encourage every single student that’s here” to do the same.
Curry gave many praises for McKillop, whom he credits with helping make him the compassionate and caring person he is today. He also shared a funny story about how McKillop kicked Curry out of his first college practice when the freshman showed up 10 minutes late because his alarm didn’t go off.
“Who would have thought, coach, that we’d be having this ceremony back in 2007, late to my first practice,” Curry said.
For Sonya, watching her son finally get his diploma was a “dream come true.”
The immensely proud mother held back her happy tears as she spent several minutes talking about what Davidson meant to her son and how proud she was of his accomplishments. She said Steph is a perfect example that it’s never too late to complete your education.
Dell Curry praised his son for his work ethic and commitment to Davidson even after bigger name colleges started to inquire about him following his freshman season.
“I love you, son,” Dell said. “And the next Hall of Fame, you know where that’s going to be.”
Curry thanked everyone for being in attendance for the momentous occasion. He also gave a shoutout to a slew of Davidson alums and former teammates and coaches who made an impact on him throughout his college playing career, and encouraged current students in attendance to cherish their time at the university.
Before he led crowd in an a cappella rendition of “Sweet Caroline,” a school tradition, Curry finished by saying this:
“I’m a graduate, I’m a Davidson alum and in the Hall of Fame, it’s pretty crazy so thank you.”
Contributed by local news sources