James White is the owner of three Super Bowl rings. As of this past weekend, he now has a college diploma, as well.
Seven years after leaving the University of Wisconsin for the NFL, the longtime New England Patriots running back officially completed his bachelor’s degree in life science communication this spring.
In doing so, White fulfilled a long-held promise to his parents, Lisa and Tyrone. The two were involved in a major car crash last September that left Tyrone White dead and Lisa hospitalized with serious injuries.
“I was taking classes since last spring,” White explained Tuesday in a video conference. “The goal was to surprise them with a degree. But once everything happened, I told (my mom) I was taking classes, so she definitely knew what was going on and was excited about it.
“Every offseason, her and my dad would ask me if I was taking classes and when I was going to get it done and how difficult it would be when I had kids — which it kind of was, so that it made it more challenging. It was definitely good to finally finish.”
White, who finished his Wisconsin career in 2014, first discussed his newly minted degree last week in an interview with UWBadgers.com’s Mike Lucas. He told Lucas he knows his late father would have been “extremely proud” of him.
“It means a lot,” White said Tuesday. “Going to college, your goal is first of all to end up with a college degree. And being a college athlete, you hope to get the opportunity to play in the NFL. I’m fortunate to still be playing currently, and I don?t take that for granted either.
“The pandemic actually was fortunate for me because my final class, I was able to take it online when typically I (would have) had to be on campus. So it’s kind of a blessing in disguise. Just happy that my wife and my parents, they kept me motivated me to finish it. It feels good to finally be done.”
White said his mother “definitely started clapping her hands” when he told her he’d begun taking classes again. Lisa White continues to recover from injuries she sustained in the crash, but the 29-year-old running back shared a positive update on her condition.
“She’s continuing to do better,” said White, who re-signed with the Patriots in March. “Obviously, it’s a long process. I’m sure there’s a lot that runs through her mind that she may not necessarily tell me. But I know she’s a fighter, that’s for sure, and every day she’ll continue to do better and better.”