“It had its low points and its high points but I fought through it and I'm better for it,” Ward said. “It tested my patience.”
It was also hard on his family.
“I guess you could say it's bittersweet,” said Demetrius Ward, D.J.'s father. “It was tough watching him sitting there with the decisions that I made, that my wife made, affecting him the way they did.
“But at the same time you look at the way he handled it and we're just so proud of him.”
Even though he never played a down for Southmoore, Ward stuck around the team and worked with the players on their technique while keeping himself in shape as much as possible.
“D.J.'s been dying to play again,” Stoops said. “He's had a great attitude through it all. He's continued to lift and run and you can tell he looks like he's in excellent shape.”
For now, Ward is getting acclimated to being in college.
His first day on campus, he received a parking ticket.
“It was a freshman mistake,” Ward said. “I really didn't know where to park. I'm learning.”
Wednesday, before he headed to Southmoore for the ceremony, Ward took care of a couple of classes, including a pilates class.
“It's different,” Ward said. “It's actually a challenge. I can feel it stretching me out.”
He'd would much rather be working out with the team though.