Former Sports Star Battling Stage 4 Cancer Finally Walks Across the Stage at UOP

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STOCKTON -- A long time promise finally fulfilled.

FOX40 first told you about the University of the Pacific graduate, 51-year-old Willie Tatum on Tuesday. On Saturday, the former basketball and baseball star joined hundreds of students walking across the stage to get their diplomas.

Walking across the stage was a goal of Tatum’s that took more than 20 years to accomplish.

At the University of the Pacific's graduation ceremony Tatum showed off his kids.

"What you've got here is my youngest son, Golden, and then this is Jules," Tatum said.

Tatum says it was "a blessing to have all my family and friends here, you know celebrating this time with me."

A time he has waited more than 20 years for.

Officially, Tatum graduated from UOP in 1991. But just before that he was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 1988 and was very busy finishing off his public relations degree during the offseason.

So busy in fact, he never took part in a commencement ceremony. Until Saturday, that is.

"I hadn't felt butterflies like that since my playing days," Tatum said.

Tatum actually played basketball in the same building as the commencement ceremony. He compared the feeling of finally getting to walk across the stage to another sport.

"It's like a home run! You lift your hands and run around the bases and stuff," said Tatum.

It was a much-needed victory lap and one his family hopes will help him in the fight of his life. Tatum recently discovered he has stage 4 cancer.

However, on the big day he said he was feeling much better.

"I got a lot more living to do. You know I believe in my healing," Tatum expressed.

It wasn't just his 40 guests cheering him on in that battle -- it was the whole school.

"It's the UOP alumni, you know, UOP family. So, you know, I know they're there," Tatum stated.

Tatum says taking part in the commencement ceremony fulfills a promise he made to his grandmother after he skipped his class' graduation in the early '90s.

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