Bianca Blair graduated from Austin-East Magnet High School in 2007. The ceremony took place at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum.
Blair returned to the coliseum Sunday, but walked across a different stage. The stage was a wrestling ring; Blair - now "Bianca Belair" - is a WWE NXT superstar.
Crowds at the NXT Knoxville event cheered on the Austin-East alumna and former Tennessee runner.
"I am the strongest, I'm the toughest, I'm the roughest, I'm the quickest, I'm the fastest, I'm the greatest, I'm the best," Belair said.
All those words end in "-est." Belair brands herself as the "E-S-T of NXT." Having competed in sports her whole life, Belair is a natural in the ring, using her hair as a whip to startle opponents.
"I feel like I'm able to use all my talents, all of my abilities," Belair said. "I'm able to show my athleticism, I'm able to show my talents, my strength. I'm also able to show my creative side."
Belair got into wrestling because of her brother, now Ausin-East head football coach, Jeff Phillips. The two would watch WWF and WCW events on TV when they were children, then try to recreate the moves they saw.
"He was into it hardcore," Belair said with a smile.
Phillips smiled as he recalled those memories with his sister.
"You always got to let her win 'cause you don't want her to go down and tell your mom or your dad that you're up there maybe beating on your sister a little bit," Phillips said. "She would win a lot.
Phillips and many members of Belair's family lined the front rows in front of the ring Sunday.
"It's something where I always had her back and she always had my back," Phillips said. "We were always tight. That's my little sister and I love her. I'm proud of her and everything she's doing."
Belair has leaned on Knoxville to get her this far. Family will keep her going.
"I owe it to my family," Belair said. I owe it to my support system here in East Knoxville.It's just an amazing feeling to be able to come back."
WWE will return to the Knoxville Civic Coliseum on April 2 for the Road to Wrestlemania.