Former NBA point guard T.J. Ford shared an incredibly emotional hug with his former college coach Rick Barnes on Friday – the day that Ford graduated from Texas after playing for the Longhorns from 2001-03.

“I’m so happy for him, and proud is an understatement, but he deserves it more than anybody,” Barnes says in the video shared by KXAN-TV’s Chris Tavarez. “I love him.”

Ford also shared the same video on Instagram with the caption:

We did it! Everything Coach Rick Barnes said as a 18yrs old kid has officially became TRUE.

– Lead country 8.25 assist a game

– College POY 2003

– NBA Lottery Pick 8th

– University of Texas Degree

After college, Ford played for four different NBA teams from 2003-12 and founded the TJ Ford Basketball Academy. He wound up walking away from the game because of back injuries.

Ford shared his journey in a great Players’ Tribune story that published on his graduation day. Part of the story by Ford says:

I’m going to walk across the stage at the University of Texas’ commencement ceremony and receive my college diploma in Applied Learning and Development: Youth and Community Studies, with a minor in Educational Psychology. In some ways, I think the experience will provide some closure on a certain chapter of my life. But in other ways, it also represents yet another new beginning for me.

If it wasn’t for the injuries I suffered, I’m not sure I’d be doing any of this. I put so much of myself into the game of basketball that it took up all of my energy and focus. But ultimately, it took having the game taken away from me to get a better understanding of who I really am, and what’s important.

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