WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) – Chris Paul, one of the NBA’s pre-eminent point guards, walked on Friday morning.
That is, he walked in the winter commencement at Winston-Salem State University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in communications in a ceremony at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex.
Thus Christopher Emmanuel Paul, age 37, known as “CP3,” “The Point God,” “The Skate Instructor” – a college All-American, an Olympian, an NBA all-star and all-NBA player first-teamer – added one more title: college graduate.
Paul, a Winston-Salem native, had left Wake Forest after his sophomore season in 2005 and was the third pick in the NBA draft – by the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets – to begin an 18-year career that has earned him fame and hundreds of millions of dollars.
But he didn’t give up on completing his degree, and he elected to do so at Winston-Salem State, the school west of downtown where his parents had attended.
“I grew up in the backyard of all the H.B.C.U.s,” Paul told The New York Times. “So, it was natural for me.”
That commitment to HBCUs has become a significant part of Paul’s legacy. He was inspired to become involved, he said, after hearing Muhammad Ali’s daughter, boxer/model Laila Ali, speak at NC A&T’s commencement in 2017 when his cousin graduated.
Paul through his CP3 foundation has created business courses at NC A&T and other schools through a 5-year commitment of $1.5 million. He has been to campuses and marshaled assets.
He staged a fundraiser exhibition game at Winston-Salem State during the NBA’s lockout in 2011, featuring LeBron James, Steph Curry and Kevin Durant, that led to a $25,000 donation to Winston-Salem State, the Times reported.
He was nominated earlier this year by President Joe Biden to serve on the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
And this weekend he is a founding sponsor of the Boost Mobile HBCU Classic, which will bring four HBCUs – NC A&T, Norfolk State, Hampton and Texas Southern – to the MGM Grand Garden Arena for two days of doubleheaders.
Paul’s NBA career has spanned 1,170 games for five teams, and he has averaged 18 points and 9.5 assists. He has played in the Olympics.
His most recent game was Thursday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, where the Suns beat the LA Clippers, 111-95, in which Paul played 36 minutes in that game and nearly had a triple-double: with 15 points, 13 assists and 7 rebounds.
About nine hours later, after flying nearly 2,500 miles in the dead of night, he had accomplished one more goal.