SAN ANTONIO — A degree was bestowed upon a basketball star from San Antonio who was gone too soon.
Last Friday, Palo Alto College posthumously awarded the family of Angel Gonzalez his associates degree during its commencement ceremony at the Freeman Coliseum.
Gonzalez's brother Isaac and Darrell walked the stage to accept their late brother's diploma on his behalf.
Family emotionally watched in the crowd.
"It was a moment of realization that everyone is talking about their future, and we won't get to see that [for Angel]," said Clarissa Anzures, his cousin.
It was bittersweet graduation as his family continues to grieve his death. Last November, Gonzalez died when an 18-wheeler cut him off in south Bexar County.
His family said the 21-year-old was a highly admired son, brother and friend. Anzures said he was her daughter's favorite person.
At Palo Alto, he was the star athlete on the college's basketball team. He also was a semester away from earning his associates in sociology when he passed.
Anzures said he was ready to continue his education.
"Of course, his goal was to go pro one day but he was real big on sports medicine. He wanted to be in that kind of industry," she said.
Anzures said school leadership unanimously agreed to posthumously award Gonzalez's degree in early February, and notified family.
As excited as they were to receive his diploma, Anzures said she wished it was her cousin who accepted it on stage.
"It was emotional thinking that this was it for him, this was it for us."
His legacy will continue to live on campus. During the ceremony the college's president announced he would be retiring his jersey number. It will soon be displayed in the new Rio Grande building on campus.
The building is expected to be completed in Spring 2023.
To honor his legacy and passion, family and friends are working to establish a scholarship endowment in honor of Gonzalez. The money will go to the Alamo Colleges Foundation Inc and will help future basketball athletes enrolled at Palo Alto College.
Anzures said the family is grateful for the college's support.
"Knowing that they thought about us was incredibly comforting for our family."