There were moments Tierra Rogers questioned whether she would stay in college, let alone do enough to earn her degree.
The former Cal basketball player, who never played a single minute because of a rare heart condition that could have killed her, has that diploma in hand at last — four years after a frightening collapse that derailed her college career before it began.
The highly touted guard stopped breathing outside the Cal training room in September 2009. While she never played for the Golden Bears, ranked No. 10 this week, Rogers attended practice whenever possible and played a part in Cal’s first ever trip to the Final Four last season.
Rogers battled depression and sought counseling, but stayed in school to earn her bachelor’s degree in African American Studies. She posted a photo of her diploma on her Twitter account with the message that “Without God, Support & Family this wouldn’t have been possible.”
She credited not only her coaches but athletic director Sandy Barbour and the Cal support staff.
“She is a model of courage and perseverance,” coach Lindsay Gottlieb said Tuesday. “Seeing her with her diploma from Berkeley in hand is just as gratifying as cutting down the nets and going to the Final Four.”
Rogers graduated despite a learning disability that makes numbers and reading comprehension that much more challenging.
Rogers’ career was cut short as she was still grieving 20 months after her father was murdered during one of her high school games for Sacred Heart Cathedral in San Francisco. Rogers was a high school All-American for SHC.
On Sept. 21, 2009, Rogers collapsed at Haas Pavilion after she had trouble breathing during a workout. Eventually doctors discovered her condition — Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia — and implanted a defibrillator, which ended her playing days.