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Why NBA superstar John Wall is heading back to college for a business degree

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Photo courtesy of Getty

Washington Wizards point guard John Wall has no plans of relaxing on his couch this summer. Instead, the five-time NBA All-Star player says he will return to the University of Kentucky to earn his business degree so that he has a fall back plan after the league.

"That's what I'm focusing on," he tells The Washington Post. "I promised my dad that."

Wall's father died when the athlete was just 8 years old.

In 2010, Wall left the University of Kentucky after one year and was selected as the No. 1 draft pick by the Washington Wizards. In 2017 he signed a contract extension with the team that will pay him $207 million through the 2023 season.

Wall is following in the footsteps of many other superstar athletes who returned to college after making millions on the court. Retired NBA player and billionaire entrepreneur Michael Jordan went back to the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill to finish his bachelor's degree in geography.

Michael Jordan speaks at UNC.
Streeter Lecka | Getty Images
Michael Jordan speaks at UNC.

"My father used to say that it's never too late to do anything you wanted to do," he told The New York Times. "And he said, 'You never know what you can accomplish until you try.'"

Four-time NBA champion Shaquille O'Neal returned to Louisiana State University after his basketball career to earn his bachelors. In 2012, he also earned his doctorate degree in education from Barry University. He credits his mother with inspiring him to continue his education.

"This is for my mother, who always stressed the importance of education," he told CNN. "I am proud to have achieved a doctoral degree and wish to thank my professors and Barry University for helping make this dream a reality. I'm smart enough to know that, even at my tender age, my pursuit of education is never finished."

While Wall does not know how he wants to use his business degree yet, he understands that going back to school can set him up for success after basketball.

"When our career is over, when we retire and the basketball stops bouncing, we still have to find something else to do," he said.

In the meantime, he's placed a lot of his off-the-court focus on philanthropy. For four consecutive years his John Wall Family Foundation has held a backpack giveaway and field day for kids in Washington, D.C. Since 2013, the Raleigh, North Carolina native has also donated over $1 million towards local charities, in partnership with the Monumental Sports and Entertainment Foundation.

"I am privileged to be in a position to better my communities in both Washington and Raleigh, and I consider the outreach that I do to be the most rewarding part of being an NBA player," he told the league after accepting the 2015-2016 Seasonlong NBA Cares Community Assist Award.

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