AUSTIN, TX - It was an emotional reunion for Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes and former player T.J. Ford on Friday. Barnes, the former head coach of Texas basketball, attended Ford's graduation in Austin.
T.J Ford was an All-American guard for Barnes' Longhorns in the early 2000's, winning Naismith Player of the Year honors in 2003, while leading Texas to the Final Four. His No.11 jersey is retired. The Longhorn left college for the NBA in 2003, getting a chance now to finish his degree.
Coach Rick Barnes got an invite to the graduation a few months ago from Ford, after the former player called him.
"I wouldn't miss it for anything," said Barnes, "I love him."
Ford was emotional while speaking to the media with Barnes, turning to the coach, crying and embracing the man who he's looked at as a father figure for most of his life.
"Him and my mother and my father, they had a vision, and I just trusted them and I trust every thing and every guidance they've always given me, even to this day."
Ford, an NBA Draft lottery pick, was forced to cut his career short after spinal injuries.
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