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An ex-NBA player who made $66 million is now a Columbia student with a 3.8 GPA

Troy Murphy
Troy Murphy

(Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

After playing 12 seasons in the NBA and earning close to $70 million, you wouldn't blame Troy Murphy if he wanted to relax for a while and enjoy retirement at age 34. But Murphy had some unfinished business.

Andrew Keh of the New York Times recently caught up with the 6'11" Murphy, who is now a full-time student at Columbia University nearing a degree in sociology.

Murphy, who was a two-time Big East player of the year at Notre Dame, left college after his junior year without a degree. He then had a nice career in the NBA with six teams, averaging 13.0 points and 9.3 rebounds per game during one 8-year stretch.

But according to Keh, Murphy always wanted to finish school and get his degree. So now, Murphy, who made $66 million in his career according to Basketball-Reference.com, has channeled the competitiveness that helped make him a good basketball player and is now directing it at Columbia professors.

"For me it was: I’m going to prove I can beat this guy. I’m going to shut him down or outscore him or outrebound him," Murphy told the Times. "Now, you have these professors who are some of the best, and you want to test yourself. You want to prove you can get an A in the class."

It's working. In the fall semester, Murphy took four classes, got a 3.8 GPA and made the Dean's List.

While Murphy was a good student in high school, the biggest challenge may have been getting into Columbia. The decision to apply came after playing a pick-up basketball game at Columbia shortly after his final season in the NBA:

"In August 2013, Murphy’s memory of that brief visit factored into his decision to apply to the university. But nothing was guaranteed; he needed to take an entrance exam. So he hired a tutor and worked with her three times a week. He went to Barnes & Noble and bought every SAT book at the store. He got flashcards to practice vocabulary. He estimated he studied 25 hours a week for two months and took more than 20 practice exams. He wrote his application essay about how he could apply the lessons learned in the N.B.A. to the challenges of college life."

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