After completing his NFL rookie season, Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey is returning home to live with his parents and complete his college degree at the University of Alabama.
In an interview for the Baltimore Ravens website, the 21-year-old explains how earning a degree is not only important to him, but to his family and college coach as well.
"The first time I met with coach Saban and staff, one of the things they said was, 'We want all of our guys to play in the NFL, but we always want our guys to graduate and walk across the stage,'" says Humphrey.
In 2017, the young NFL star was selected as the 16th overall pick in the NFL draft and reportedly signed a four-year, $11.9 million contract with the Ravens. With a rookie season under his belt, Humphrey plans to use this off-season to take more college courses so that he can graduate next spring.
"You've got to get that degree," says Humphrey's mom, Barbara. "That's something nobody can take from you," Humphrey's says his mom tells him. "And you do realize that you don't play football forever. So you've got to have that backup plan. Whatever it needs to be you've got to have it, and a degree [might] help you along the way."
Humphrey, who is following in his father Bobby Humphrey's NFL footsteps, isn't the only athlete to return to school after making it in the big leagues.
Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal and Troy Polamalu are among a few sports stars who earned a college degree after earning millions.
In 2011, Polamalu wrote on his website about his decision to finish school, saying, "I decided to finish what I started and walked that stage today not only because it was very important to me personally, but because I want to emphasize the importance of education, and that nothing should supersede it."
Like Humphrey, Polamalu took a break from his studies when he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2003.
"The majority of top picks in the NFL get drafted before they complete their college education," he added. "I truly love football and it's such an immense blessing and privilege as an athlete to be given the rare opportunity to use those talents at the highest professional level, but it's certainly not a replacement for an education."
Humphrey's dad, who also returned to school after football, says he hopes his son is able to surpass the achievements he made in his career.
"You always want your children to be able to grow up and excel and kind of exceed the things that you accomplished," says the 51-year-old. "For him to be able to do the things that he has done over his high school, collegiate career and hopefully his professional career, I hope it is triple the things that I did."
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