A Greenville native who went on to become one of the biggest movie stars in China will return to his former elementary school Thursday to give a motivational speech to students.

Greenville County Schools said Matthew Knowles, a former Clemson football player who graduated from the university in 2008, will speak to students at Sarah Collins elementary.

Clemson reported that Knowles graduated with a degree in civil engineering and then moved to China where he expected to spend a year teaching English at a high school.

While there, he learned to speak Mandarin and said singing a karaoke song in that language initially put him in the spotlight.

He said the biggest compliment was that he didn’t sound like a foreigner when he sang or spoke in Mandarin.

In the years since, Greenville County Schools said Knowles became the first foreigner to be accepted to the Chinese Film Academy. He has starred in dozens of Chinese TV shows and landed the lead role in the biggest blockbuster China has ever made, which had a $100 million-dollar budget.

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