FRISCO, TEXAS (KTSM) – At just 18 years old, El Paso native Ricardo Pepi has already made a name for himself as a rising star with MLS club FC Dallas.

He left home at just 13 years old, and had to grow up quickly to become a professional player. He still had to do things that all kids do though, like go to school. Pepi would have graduated from San Elizario High School; instead he took the bulk of his classes online.

Recently, Pepi and his FC Dallas teammates Beni Redžić and Dante Sealy all got their high school diplomas. On Friday, the club threw them a surprise graduation party, and invited all of their families to join in the fun.

For Pepi, t was a lot of hard work to get his degree while playing pro soccer, but worth it in the end.

“The hardest part was being able to manage doing schoolwork every day and also come to practice and go on trips,” Pepi said. “Sometimes, I was with the national team and have week-long, or month-long trips so it would be very hard to get school done right then and there. But I still got it done, and I’m happy for my diploma.”

Pepi and FC Dallas will return to action June 19 when the host Minnesota United.