MINNEAPOLIS - When Marion Barber Jr. stepped on the field as a Gopher, he set records and when the NFL drafted him during its second round, the record setting continued.
But Thursday evening, Barber set a new record. At 57, he finished a journey he started nearly 40 years ago.
"The two things I'm most proud of - I have perfect attendance and I'm graduating with honors," he said. "I tell the students I've been on a 36-year spring break, however, I wouldn't recommend they take that long of a break to come back and get it done."
The former Minnesota Gophers Football star now has a degree in youth services.
Marion Barber Jr. said walking across the stage fulfills a promise he made before he set any records.
"I made a promise to my mother. I've been crying. A lot Happy tears of course. Excited to make that walk," he said.
His mother was unable to attend the ceremony. She did send Marion Barber a text Thursday morning from her home in Florida to congratulate him on a job well done.
Meanwhile, education has always come first in the Barber household. Just ask his wife and their youngest son, Thomas Barber, who is now a student at the University of Minnesota. His older siblings attended the U of M too.
Growing up, Thomas said he and his brothers would not be allowed to play sports if they earned anything below a B.
"He's always been the one helping me with my homework. My projects have always been our projects," Thomas Barber said.
Marion Barber said his wife, Karen, pushed him to finish the journey he started three decades ago. He beamed with joy as he talked about her support hours before his graduation ceremony.
Meanwhile, Marion Barber says an internship last fall helped him land a full time gig.
He now works with students in the special education department at Armstrong High School. He is also on the coaching staff for the football team.
"I've always felt I would be a better coach and a teacher than I was a player," Marion Barber said.
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