(NBC) - After 20 years, an NCAA Final 8 Championship ring has been returned to its rightful owner. Authorities say the ring belongs to Gopher basketball player Walter Bond. It was stolen from his apartment near the University of Minnesota in 1991.
"That ring was special," Bond said. "It was blood, sweat and tears."
Bond thought the ring was lost forever.
"Someone entered our apartment and took it," Bond said. "There was no forced entry, it was some kind of inside job."
Ramsey County Sheriff's deputies recovered the ring earlier this month during the execution of a search warrant.
"It was in the nightstand next to the suspects bed," Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said. "Deputies looked closer and found the ring to say Final 8, with a Gopher emblem on it."
Investigators also found the name "BOND" engraved on the side of the gold ring, and initials on the inside of the ring.
Bond played guard for the Gophers in the late 80's early 90's. In 1990, the University of Minnesota Basketball team was invited to the NCAA tournament and made it to the "Final 8".
"When I thought about what the ring symbolized, it was more than just jewelry," Bond said. "It was success, history, a special team. I didn't expect to be emotional when I got the ring back. I looked at it and said 'wow,' this ring means more to me than I thought it would."
Bond went on to play professional basketball for the Dallas Mavericks, Utah Jazz, and Detroit Pistons. He currently works as a motivational speaker, making appearances around the country.