Wearing two rings is a unique way he keeps the tradition alive in his family after his uncle John, a proud UofSC alum, passed away.
“My uncle John played the Sousaphone in the Mighty Sound of the Southeast and graduated in 1987," James said. "He taught me everything I needed to know about Carolina Football, Five Points and hating orange. My first Carolina memory with him was at a bar in Northern Virginia watching the first of back-to-back Outback Bowl wins over Ohio State. After the game ended, my Uncle John stood up to sing the Alma Mater - when no one joined in, he wrote down the lyrics on multiple napkins and helped other fans remember the tune and we tried again to greater success.”
Unfortunately, his uncle John lost his class ring decades ago and was not able to find it until this special moment occurred.
“One day, my Uncle John was paying for a round of golf in Rock Hill, SC," James said. "The golf-pro recognized the name on the credit card. "John Armstrong?" "Yes, sir." "Did you go to Carolina?" "Yes, sir I did." "When did you graduate? '87?" "Why yes, actually. How'd you know?" The golf-pro pulled out the ring from a drawer behind the counter and indicated that it had been found some time ago in a sandtrap on the course.”
From the day John found his ring, he wore it every day up until his passing. When James had enough credits to participate in his own ring ceremony, he signed up without hesitation.
“Before participating in the ceremony, I was surprised by his widow with a gift on Easter Sunday," he said. "She gave me his ring, and I wore proudly until my ring ceremony when I put his on a chain around my neck while receiving a UofSC ring of my own. I still have my Uncle John's ring and plan to keep it in the family.”