Erving grew up in Hempstead, N.Y., on Long Island, in a close-knit, single-parent family. He wasn’t heavily recruited, but St. John’s University, in the New York borough of Queens, was interested, and when he called St. John’s coach Lou Carnesecca to tell him of his decision to attend the University of Massachusetts instead, Erving cried since it meant leaving home. But he found that UMass matched up with his idea of a college with a “proper campus and proper-looking buildings and dormitories.” Nobody from UMass had ever played in the NBA, but Erving says he never wanted to be a jock. He was thinking education and had his sights set on getting a business degree. Although he left school early he took UMass courses throughout his NBA career, spent time in libraries around the country, and finally earned a degree.