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Bears DBs Stevenson, Johnson receive college diplomas

Tyrique Stevenson and Quindell Johnson
Tyrique Stevenson and Quindell Johnson

When cornerback Tyrique Stevenson and safety Quindell Johnson entered the NFL a year ago, they left their college campuses with some unfinished business.

But after completing the coursework they needed to graduate, the Bears teammates received their diplomas at their respective schools. Stevenson earned a bachelor's degree in general studies at the University of Miami last weekend, while Johnson received a master's degree in sports commerce at the University of Memphis earlier this month.

A third Bears player, second-year receiver Tyler Scott, will graduate from the University of Cincinnati in early August.

Stevenson became the first member of his family to earn a college degree, a feat that he hopes inspires his four sisters as well as his young nieces and nephews.

"It means the world," Stevenson told "The fact that I'm setting the bar higher and higher as someone to look up to that did not stop when life got hard, when adversity hit them, it means the world to me that I could just give off that type of inspiration to my family."

Stevenson celebrated with his relatives after walking across the stage in Miami's basketball arena to receive his diploma. Among those in attendance were his mother, sisters, grandmother and great-grandmother.

"It was just joy," Stevenson said. "I didn't even have time to think about it, it happened so fast. They called my name, I got out there and I heard my family. When I heard them, it made everything make sense. It wasn't for me. It was for giving my family hope. My mom cried the whole time."

A Miami native, Stevenson chose to initially attend the University of Georgia. He transferred to Miami as a junior in 2021 but 17 of his credit hours did not transfer.

"I had to basically restart as a sophomore going into my junior year," he said. "That was very discouraging because I busted my [butt] at Georgia."

The setback did not deter Stevenson, who attended virtual classes over the past year to complete his coursework.

"Anything I had to do to get this degree, I was willing to do because I'd rather do it now than five or six years from now when I don't want to do it," he said.

Stevenson was selected by the Bears in the second round of last year's draft. He emerged as a playmaker as a rookie, registering 86 tackles and two forced fumbles, tying for the team lead with four interceptions and topping the defense with 16 pass breakups. He was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for Week 17 after recording two interceptions, five tackles and four pass breakups in a 37-17 win over the Falcons.

Johnson, meanwhile, entered the NFL last year as an undrafted free agent with the Rams. He was waived by Los Angeles Aug. 29 as part of final cuts and claimed by the Bears the next day. He appeared in nine games, registering two tackles and one interception on defense and one tackle on special teams.

After earning a bachelor's degree in business management in December 2021, Johnson decided to enroll in Memphis' graduate school.

"It wasn't something I had in mind at first," he said. "But once I started it, I was going to finish it."

Johnson's twin brother, Kendell, also earned a master's degree at Memphis. Kendell, who played football with Quindell in high school and college, immediately preceded the Bears safety across the stage at Memphis' graduation ceremony last weekend.

"It was a great feeling, just a big accomplishment, not just for me but for my family as well and for trying to set that standard for my little sister as well," Quindell said.

Quindell's sister is graduating from high school this year and heading to Dilliard University in New Orleans in the fall on a track scholarship.

"We strive for greatness in this family," Quindell said. "So just setting that standard, we expect nothing less. Even if it's not a master's, she's going to get her degree."