After helping the Tampa Bay Buccaneers capture an elusive Super Bowl championship in February, linebacker Lavonte David added yet another impressive bullet point to his resume: a college degree.
David returned to the University of Nebraska this spring and graduated in early May with a degree in criminal justice. During Bucs mandatory minicamp last week, David spoke to the media last week for the first time since graduating and discussed what it meant to him to finish his goal.
“It was really big to go back and finish school, get my degree," David said. "Even though it took a while, I knew eventually I would get it because it was something that I had to do. I made a promise to my mom. I made a promise to a lot of people around me that I was going to go back and get my degree. Not too many people from my neighborhood where I grew up were able to go to a university and do that."
David began his college football career at Fort Scott Community College. In 2009, David ranked among the Jayhawk Conference leaders in total tackles and tackles for loss, racking up nearly 10 tackles per game.
After two seasons in the junior college ranks, David landed at Nebraska where he completed one of the most impressive two-year careers in Nebraska football history with an All-America season in 2011. David had a banner year as a senior in 2011, making his mark as one of the top linebackers in the nation and one of the top defensive players in Husker history.
The Bucs selected David in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft and since then he has become a pivotal piece of Tampa Bay's defense, earning a Pro Bowl selection in 2015. This offseason David re-signed with the Bucs, agreeing to a two-year deal that includes $20 million in guaranteed money.
Thanks to his professional success, David has been able to launch his own foundation, the Lavonte David Foundation, which provides scholarships to those working to attend college, among other things in education.
"With my foundation, it could be an example," David said about his college degree. "I’m supporting education with my foundation – helping kids get scholarships so they can get the chance to earn degrees and be in the position that I’m in. I couldn’t do that without leading by example and going back to get my degree. That was something I definitely had to do."
David grew up in Miami and attended national powerhouse Miami Northwestern. While he was at the school, Northwestern won back-to-back state titles in 2006 and 2007 and finished with unbeaten records each year. In 2007, Northwestern was listed as the No. 1 team in the country by USA Today.
"Growing up I wasn’t really focused on a big part of school, but just realized going through the process and how important school is – how it can change your life," David said. "It’s something that I want to try to get back and try to promote to the kids that grew up in my community.”