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Yao Ming graduated from Shanghai Jiao Tong University

Source: TPG / Getty

Back in 2011, Yao Ming announced his retirement from basketball. Seven years later, he’s now a college graduate.

Yahoo Sports’ Torrey Hart revealed that Ming entered Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China in 2011 and graduated this past weekend with a degree in economics. The 7’6” center towered over his fellow graduates, eclipsing them from seeing what was going on stage, but he was able to deliver a memorable and heartfelt speech.

“At a certain stage in the future, you should try to combine your future with the future of the society, because that’s how you can find larger space for yourself to explore. Let me quote a famous conversation that happened on a basketball court 11 years ago, ‘This is going to be your league in a little while.’ Trust me, when a man spends seven years in university to graduate at age 38, he knows what he’s talking about,” he said when he took the stage.

After being a risky number one pick in the 2002 NBA draft, Ming went on to dominate the league with the help of Steve Francis and Tracy McGrady. He became one of China’s top-earning celebs in the aughts, and didn’t let a foot injury that forced him into retirement stop his hustle. He couldn’t just attend college as a normal person because of his celebrity and opted to work with administrators to develop a seven-year program to keep a promise he’d made to his parents 14 years ago.