December 6th, 2019 is a night Rodney Hood would like to forget.
It was that night that Hood went up for a rebound against the Los Angeles Lakers but ended up in a heap on the floor. A victim of a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Out for the remainder of the reason, Hood began to focus on rehab and a return for the start of the 2020-21 season.
However, basketball wasn't the only thing on his mind: Hood also turned his attention to his education.
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Hood started his collegiate career at Mississippi State, before transferring to Duke after his freshman season. He sat out one year due to NCAA transfer rules, and played his redshirt sophomore season at Duke before declaring for the NBA draft.
His college career was over, but his degree was yet to be completed.
In the middle of rehab and with plenty of time on his hand, Hood decided it was time to finish what he started at Duke.
While rehabbing from a torn Achilles, Rodney Hood used his time during the NBA hiatus to re-enroll in school at Duke to finish his degree. "Seeing how the disparity is with African American men ... I want to do something special," @rodneyhood said. LINK: https://t.co/TaZzFkgCVh pic.twitter.com/WjUZqjamSM
— Eric Woodyard (@E_Woodyard) June 16, 2020
According to an interview with ESPN, Hood was just eight credits shy of completing his degree when he left to head to the NBA, and it was his wife Richa that urged him to return to school.
"When he got injured and tore his Achilles, that's when I really was like, 'Yeah, OK. You really need to make sure you try to focus on getting your degree, especially during this downtime...This was a perfect opportunity to earn some credits and strive to get it." - Hood's wife Richa in an interview with ESPN.
You never know what life holds after basketball. With a potentially career-altering injury, a global pandemic, and racial tensions at a boiling point, it's now more important than ever for athletes to set themselves up for life without basketball.
"I've just got a real thirst for knowledge now, especially seeing how the world is, seeing how the disparity is with African American men, and I want to do something special," Hood told ESPN. "And getting a degree from Duke is special, especially coming from where I come from."
"An NBA player's life is a dog's life, as far as how long it is," said Mike Krzyzewski, Hood's basketball coach at Duke. "There's a lot of life ahead of you -- and that transition from whenever you stop playing to whatever that life would be I would think would be a lot easier to navigate with a college degree."
Completing his degree is not only important for Hood, but it's a source of inspiration for many people out there. It's living proof that it's never too late to set out and accomplish your goal.
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Rodney Hood uses down time in rehab to finish his degree at Duke originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest