Former Detroit Titan Earl Cureton earns a college degree... 32 years later

In the mid-to-late 70s, Calihan Hall was jumping, and Earl Cureton was one of the Titan basketball players who helped make that period of Detroit basketball electric.  

He played professionally from 1980-1997, but he never got his degree.

"It would be the class of '79 actually so that's going back a long way," said Cureton

Thirty-two years later, Earl, who still works out daily at the Jewish Community Center in West Bloomfield, will don the cap and gown and receive his diploma. 

And he earned it.

"A lot of guys do classes online and they do all kinds of other stuff," said Cureton.  "I actually went back to the classroom and went through the whole routine of it.  It's pretty difficult.  There's a reason why you go to school when you're young." 

"It says a number of things about Earl," said Dr. Charles Marske from the University of Detroit-Mercy.  "Number one, his diligence, the fact that this dream was deferred for a good long while, but he persisted and got it done."

A lot motivated Earl to finish what he started when disco was king, nothing more than the thoughts of his 94-year-old mother, and what education means to her.

"She talked about her history, you know, being that old and coming up and growing in the south, not having an opportunity really to go to college," said Cureton.  "And I always felt very bad about it, like here I am with a scholarship and I had a chance to go to college and I had to get out.  Now, she will be able to see it."

"Students don't just get degrees for themselves," said Manske. "But grandma and mom, and you know, the auntie and brothers and sisters often play into this."

Add to the mix Earl's 11-year old daugther, Sari.  After all, she helped dad with the homework.

"She laughed a lot," said Cureton.  "The kids are so much more advanced, especially with the computers and all the things that are going on now. She was able to give me a helping hand and you know I had to make sure to do my homework. I wanted her to do hers."

Fittingly, the journey will come to an end next Saturday when Cureton receives his diploma inside Calihan Hall , the very same building in which Earl provided so many electric memories more than three decades ago.

And Mom will be there. 

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