Donald Hayes will graduate from the University of Wisconsin Saturday fulfilling a journey that went more than two decades.
Hayes was one of the greatest high school athletes in Madison high school history. He was first team All-State in football and basketball.
At the University of Wisconsin, he was a four-year letter winner at wide receiver and went on to play five seasons in the NFL.
More than a decade after his retirement from football, Hayes returned to Madison to complete his degree in Afro-American Studies.
"It was harder than it was when I was a freshman because now I've got a family- I've been out in the real world working," Hayes said. "It took me a while to get my mind right back around it that hey- I'm actually in school - let's buckle down and get this taken care of."
I'm real proud of him and he deserves to be proud of himself," said Alan Zussman, Coordinator of the Degree Completion Program. "He doesn't complain- and everything I can do to make it better for him-- it's easy to do that when you've got a guy that you know is committed to it."
Hayes added, "I've been to see my other friends walk off the stage and I was really excited for them and I was like, one day, I'm going to be doing that and now that time is upon me."