When Daylon McCutcheon left USC in 1999 to pursue a career in the NFL, he promised his mother, Deborah Sterling, a special education teacher at Giano Intermediate School in La Puente, he would eventually get his degree.
Friday, McCutcheon, 29, a cornerback for the Cleveland Browns, had a limousine pick up his mother, who thought she was being taken to an early Mother's Day brunch.
Instead, she and other family members were taken to USC, where McCutcheon received his degree in sociology during graduation ceremonies at Howard Jones Field.
"What a wonderful, wonderful feeling it was when I first saw him standing there in cap and gown," Sterling said after returning home to Diamond Bar. "I am so proud of my son."
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday June 27, 2006 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 34 words Type of Material: Correction
Pro football: An item in the Sports section's May 13 Morning Briefing said Daylon McCutcheon's mother was a special education teacher at Giano Intermediate School in La Puente. The school is in West Covina.
Trivia time: McCutcheon's father, Lawrence, was the Los Angeles Rams' leading rusher for five consecutive seasons, 1973 through '77. Where did Lawrence McCutcheon, who was also at Friday's graduation ceremony, go to college?
Good timing: Daylon McCutcheon, who was 30 units shy of a degree when he left school in 1999, said that in the off-season he had been taking classes at USC since 2004.
"When we mapped all this out," he said, "I thought, 'Wouldn't it be great if graduation took place around Mother's Day?' As things turned out, we got lucky."
Sterling said she couldn't have asked for a better Mother's Day present.
But will his wife smile? Mike Brown, coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, talked with Fox Sports radio about how much he enjoys coaching LeBron James.
"Every single day, it puts a smile on my face," Brown said. "I'm not ashamed to say it.
"If I wasn't as smart as I was, I'd let everybody know that at times it puts a bigger smile on my face when I see him than when I see my wife."
No wedding bells yet: Miami Dolphins Coach Nick Saban, according to the Miami Herald, told reporters not to read too much into his team's giving quarterback Marcus Vick a tryout.
"It's a date," Saban said. "We're not getting married."
Silence not always golden: Former Boston Red Sox outfielder Rick Miller, as he prepared to join Johnny Bench, Bill Mazeroski and other former major leaguers at the Swing With the Legends golf tournament at Concord, Mass., acknowledged he was nervous about playing in front of Boston fans again.
"It's totally different in golf because the crowd is so quiet," Miller told the Associated Press. "I'd rather they cheer and make some noise and call me a bum. I'd be back in my element."
Trivia answer: Colorado State. But Lawrence McCutcheon never earned a degree.
And finally: Today's Jim Murray Memorial Handicap at Hollywood Park had drama written all over it before King's Drama was scratched. He missed a chance for a distinctive double. Last fall at Aqueduct in New York, he won the Red Smith Handicap.
Larry Stewart can be reached at email@example.com.