John Calipari watched Marcus Camby graduate from UMass — finally

Massachusetts coach John Calipari (right) is seen with Marcus Camby during a press conference before a first round 1996 NCAA Division I Mens Basketball Championship in Providence, R.I., Wednesday, March 13, 1996. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Winslow Townson/ASSOCIATED PRESS/File 1996
Then-UMass coach John Calipari and Marcus Camby, during a news conference before the 1996 NCAA tournament.

Marcus Camby received his UMass Amherst degree Friday—24 years after he began taking classes at the university.

And his former Minutemen basketball coach, John Calipari, was on hand to celebrate with him.

According to a recent column in the Daily Hampshire Gazette, after Camby was told he’d graduate with the class of 2017 last month, his first commencement invitation went to his mother. His second went to Calipari.


“It meant a lot to him,” Camby said of his former coach. “He’s excited. He said he wouldn’t miss it for the world. We share a lifelong bond, and I wanted him to be part of it.”

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Camby played under Calipari, who now coaches Kentucky, for three years at UMass, before leaving the university after his junior year to enter the 1996 NBA Draft. That year, Camby, who went on to play in the NBA for 17 seasons, led the Minutemen to their first ever Final Four appearance. However, that milestone was later vacated after it was discovered Camby had accepted money and gifts from agents.

Now 43, Camby has quietly taken online classes over the last two years to finish his degree, according to the Daily Hampshire Gazette. He told the newspaper he did so for his mother and his kids.

“Being a parent, I’ve always stressed education,” he said. “Now my kids can see their dad as a college graduate. My oldest will be in high school next year. I want her to go to UMass.”

It wasn’t hard for Camby’s family and Calipari to spot the former NBA center Friday.

This report first appeared on