Former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Thomas always promised his mother and grandmother he would get his college degree.
They were around to see it happen, even if he wasn't.
The University of Alabama awarded Thomas a posthumous bachelor of arts degree in criminal justice and social welfare Saturday. His mother, Edith Morgan, and grandmother, Annie Adams were on hand to accept the honor.
Thomas, the former National Football League linebacker, was 33 when he died Feb. 8 from injuries sustained in an automobile accident. He was left paralyzed from the chest down when the car he was driving flipped Jan. 23 on an icy road in Missouri.
Adams had often declined her grandson's invitations to Kansas City for games.
"I told him that the only reason I was going to leave Florida was to come here and watch him get his degree," said Adams. "Derrick's education was extremely important to him, but it was also important to me. Every time I would see him I'd say, 'Go back to school and get your degree."'
Morgan said her son was 15 credit hours short of the degree. He had been taking courses at the University of Missouri at Kansas City.
Carl Peterson, the Chiefs' President and general manager, and other Kansas City and NFL officials attended Saturday's ceremony.
Thomas was an All-American at Alabama and won the Butkus Award in 1989 as the nation's top linebacker. He was a first-round draft choice of Kansas City in the 1989 NFL draft and made the Pro Bowl nine times while playing for the Chiefs.
He was also a two-time NFL Man of the Year.Reuse content