Freddy Adu dons cap and gown

As spring turns to summer, most 14-year-olds are celebrating their completion of 8th grade and are looking forward to summer vacation and a more grown-up life in high school, come September. But, as has become aparent in recent months, Freddy Adu is not your average 14-year-old.

Your average 14-year-old doesn't spend his days playing professional soccer with grown men, some more than twice his age, and your average 14-year-old can't produce the kind of spectacular goal that Adu scored Wednesday against the Los Angeles Galaxy (56k|384K). Adu is proving himself on the soccer field as he becomes more comfortable, relaxed, and to some degree, experienced.

However, what often gets lost in the shuffle is that Adu is not only supremely talented with a ball at his feet, but he also is more mature and educated than your average 14-year-old. In fact, few realize what Adu has already accomplished in the classroom. Friday he reaches yet another milestone in his whirlwind life, as he dons a cap and gown to receive a high school diploma from the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., where he spent most of the last two years focused solely on two things: soccer and school.

In Bradenton, Adu and his teammates from the U.S. U-17 National Team spent their days improving their soccer skills and their academic skills in a residency program developed by U.S. Soccer for the country's most promising youth players. At the age of 13, Adu moved away from his friends in family in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Potomac, Md., and began a strict regimen of soccer training and accelerated education.

Adu's mother, Emelia, was adamant that young Freddy must finish his schoolwork before joining United on a full-time basis.

"He's done a good job," Emilia Adu told the Washington Post. "He's my guy. It was hard for him, but he did it. When the work was difficult, I told him 'You promised me.' He said to me, 'Mummy, I'll make it,' and he made it."

In about a year and a half, Adu learned what most teenagers take in over a four-year period. He completed his exams just as D.C. United was begining their pre-season camp, and on Friday, Adu, with his family in tow, returned to Bradenton to walk across the stage in a cap and gown to receive his high school diploma.

"I worked hard for a long time to reach that stage in my life," Adu told the Washington Post. "I'm just going to enjoy it because I earned it."

After the ceremony, Adu will fly to Denver to re-join his United teammates in time for Saturday's clash with the Colorado Rapids. Kickoff is scheduled for 9 p.m. ET and the action can be seen live on Comcast SportsNet and dcunited.com.. Alternatively, English-language radio commentary is available on WMET and Spanish radio can be heard on WACA. Both will also be streamed live on dcunited.com.

This story was not subject to approval by Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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