A guard on Denny Crum’s first Final Four team, instead of turning in a paper and getting his degree, he left UofL without it to play ball in the American Basketball Association.

While his basketball career didn’t last very long, his goal to finish his degree did. A 64-year-old Bacon realized that goal Saturday when he received his education degree with a physical education minor.

Now he can point to the diploma on his wall and tell his grandkids “this is what’s important,” Bacon said.

From the 2013 Final Four basketball team and NCAA Champion Cardinals, Peyton Siva also walked during commencement Saturday, graduating with a major in sociology. He received a big cheer from fans and family as he crossed the stage to get his diploma.

President James Ramsey also got a big roar from the graduates when he asked them twice during his remarks: “Is it a great time to be a Louisville Cardinal?”

Ramsey praised the grads for their commitment to complete their degrees.

“We know that the great things that have happened at the University of Louisville are because of you. First, because you believed in the University of Louisville and chose to come to UofL when there were other schools you could have chosen,” he told them.

Also on Saturday, UofL noted a couple of “firsts” — the first Latin American and Latino Studies majors to graduate are Rosslyn Steinmetz, Leah Dahline and Kelsey Stanley. Steinmetz also is a Fulbright recipient.

Iraq war veteran Matt Gammons graduated with a justice administration degree and is the first graduate to earn a certificate in Peace, Justice and Conflict Transformation from UofL. The community-minded student has helped with Hurricane Sandy relief, volunteered for Big Brothers/Big Sisters and hopes to become a police officer.

UofL also conferred honorary degrees on alumnus Howard Fineman and Henry Heuser, president of the Henry Vogt Foundation and chair of the university’s Board of Overseers.

By the numbers:

  • 2,707 students earned degrees this semester
  • 1710 graduates “did the walk” May 11
  • 63 doctoral students participated in a hooding ceremony May 10