This Sunday, December 17 former professional basketball player Devin Harris will graduate with his bachelor’s degree in History from UW-Madison, nearly 20 years after leaving UW-Madison to play in the NBA. Before turning pro, Harris helped the Badgers win three Big Ten titles – 2002 and 2003 regular season and 2004 Big Ten Tournament. After leaving UW-Madison in his junior year, Harris went on to play 1,049 games in the NBA in a career that spanned 15 years.
After the COVID-19 pandemic, Harris was living in Texas and officially retired from the NBA when he decided to complete his bachelor’s degree. Originally a Sociology major, Harris changed his major to History after communicating with the Undergraduate History Advisor, Scott Burkhardt.
“It can be really difficult for students or student athletes to return and finish their degrees – for all sorts of reasons – so it is pretty rare,” Burkhardt told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “History is a great way to prepare for law school, and quite a few of our majors do choose to pursue careers in law. As with many liberal arts fields, History majors develop skills that prepare them for other careers in business, non-profits and government.”
It was important for Harris to get his degree from UW-Madison, and he worked hard to ensure that it would happen. Harris is the father of three young daughters, and after helping them finish their homework and putting them to sleep, that’s often when he would begin his coursework.
“Madison meant something to me then; still means something to me now,” Harris told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “There’s plenty of schools around where I live, and I could have knocked it out a lot easier here, but it wouldn’t carry the same weight with me. I wanted to finish it from Wisconsin.”
Harris will walk the graduation stage on Sunday after Michael Finley (a former teammate of Harris’ when he played for the Dallas Mavericks) delivers the winter commencement address.