He was a kid from Texas, a double-major at Goucher College with the world in front of him. Then Matthew Gabriel was killed by a drunk driver while crossing the street.
Friday, in front of former classmates and an entire community, he was awarded the degree he could not reach in death.
"He was a great teammate. He was selfless in how he went about his interactions with his teammates," said his lacrosse coach Brian Kelly.
Matthew was killed two years ago as a sophomore at the school while crossing Dulaney Valley Rd.The driver that hit him was drinking at a bar nearby. Matthew died after a painful decision to pull him off life support the next day.
His memory was never forgotten. Friday, in front of many wearing Hawaiian leis in his honor, his parents received the bachelors degree their son could not finish.
"I felt joy," his mother Vicki Gabriel said. "It's not what we expected as Matthew's parents, (but) that spirit of celebration, and the spirit of Matthew was ever so present."
His teammates remember him as an outgoing member of the lacrosse team. Many students now wear Hawaiian shirts every Wednesday in his honor, a legacy at the school that will live on with the support of family.
"We're very thankful to the communities here and at home who have supported us during the last four years, and particularly during the last two years," said David Gabriel, Matthew's father.
Matthew was an organ donor. His heart was given to a man that the Gabriel's said they one day hope to meet.