Iowa plays a key Big Ten home game against Wisconsin on Saturday night. But Saturday is also the 20th anniversary of the passing of Chris Street, who died in a tragic auto accident on January 19, 1993. Iowa is honoring the anniversary of Street's passing in several ways -- players will wear a black "CMS 40" patch and special shooting shirts during warm-ups, coaches will wear special pins, and there will be a ceremony involving past recipients of the Chris Street Award at halftime* -- but several Iowa writers have chipped in with thoughtful pieces about Street's death and the ripple effect it's had on his friends, family, coaches, teammates, fans, and Iowa basketball as a whole since then. They're all worth reading. If I omitted any good pieces (and I probably did), feel free to link them in the comments.
* I haven't heard any details about whether or not the halftime ceremony will be televised, but I have to believe that at the very least it will turn up online after the game.
Hawkeye Drive -- Chris Street: Remembering a beloved Hawkeye
The memory remains fresh in Fran McCaffery’s mind. During the summer of 1988, the then-Lehigh head coach took part in a Nike-sponsored trip to the Virgin Islands alongside numerous other college basketball coaches.
At their St. Thomas resort, the restaurants supplying them with meals had daily sign-up sheets for each coach to sign. This was so workers knew who was eating where, when coaches were eating and how much food would be needed each day. One night, McCaffery chose a restaurant for dinner and ended up sharing that particular meal with Tom Davis, who had just completed his second season coaching at Iowa.
McCaffery: He was like, “We just got this kid to commit to us.” Nobody took sophomore commitments then. Nobody offered sophomores. He just did and the kid said yes and he was thrilled. I watched the kid play and thought, “Wow, can he really play.”
That kid’s name was Chris Street. The assistant designated as the primary contact during Street’s recruitment was Gary Close, who followed Davis to Iowa from Stanford. Davis said he and his staff had identified Street as “a key recruit.”
Hawkeye Report -- Dr. Tom on Chris Street
Q: What are your thoughts on the 20th anniversary of the passing of Chris Street?
DAVIS: It's really hard to say how you really feel. As I started to think about it this summer, the one thought I had was, I don't know if enough was every said about what great parents Mike and Patty Street were in terms of how they raised this young man. With the values that he had an the talent that he was able to use was certainly God given, but he had other good coaches and good people around him in his early years that developed him into the person he became. People have to understand, when a college coach gets acquainted with him, the personally is pretty much made by then and habits and the way he approaches people are all pretty much there. I have been thinking a lot about Mike and Patty and I'm not sure that has ever been brought up about them when they talk about how great Chris was. Well, he had help getting there from his parents and he had terrific coaching in high school from his basketball coach and his football coaches. Chris loved playing football and other sports too. I know he had a lot of people help him get there.
Q: Does it seem like 20 years ago?
DAVIS: In some ways it seems like forever. In other ways it was just recently. It's kind of mixed as you look back on it.
Q: Have you had a lot of emotions come back this week?
DAVIS: It's funny, over the years when I would speak to a group or something, there would always be a question about Chris Street. People care. You guys have probably figured out that there was a caring there. I found that it was hard for me to talk about. I'd get choked up. You wouldn't think that you would, but just thinking back as you have the memories, it's tough. It has probably been a tough week or month on everybody as they get ready for this for everyone connected with this. But, I think it's good. It gives us a chance to reflect on somebody who was pretty special.
Iowa players knew about Street. McCaffery wanted to give his story more dimension for his team going into Saturday night’s game.
“We brought that over and showed that to them so they could hear people talk about him, they could see footage of him, and they could try to get a feel for what it was like when everyone found out [about the accident],” McCaffery said. “. . . I think when that meeting ended yesterday, they had a pretty good feeling of what he meant to this program and how he’s still very much a part of the family.
“They walk by the memorial right in front of our locker room, and you wonder how much do they think about that. They see it every day, so they knew who he was, they knew what he meant, they’ve read that. But I think they have a much better feeling now.”
Hawk Central -- Chris Street: His legacy lives on after 20 years
Twenty years ago Saturday — Jan. 19, 1993 — Christopher Michael Street died in an automobile accident on the outskirts of Iowa City when his Chrysler LeBaron collided with a Johnson County snowplow. It was a death that shook much more than the Street family tree. It touched an entire state.
“You can still tell, today, how much he impacted the state of Iowa,” said Kenyon Murray, who was a freshman that season when Street took him under his wing. “People still remember him and reflect upon him and still talk about what a great person and player he was. He did a lot for us during his life. He’s done a lot more for us in his passing.”
Street was a hard-working, gregarious, self-made 20-year-old junior and basketball standout at the University of Iowa. He was No. 40, emotion in motion, the embodiment of Midwestern work ethic.
(NOTE: That link also includes a few photo galleries. There's even more Hawk Central coverage here.)
Hawkeye Insider -- Street Smarts
Sophomore Aaron White had researched Street since his arrival to Iowa from Ohio. He hadn't seen the documentary until Tuesday.
"I've tried to learn more about him because how highly he's been talked about," White said. "Watching a video like that, you see that not only was he a great basketball player with the potential to be an NBA player, he was a great person that left a great impact on a lot of people.
"You never know who you're going to come in contact with and he always seemed to reach out to sign autographs, talking to fans, anything. That's great to see from a player that was that big around the state."
Hawkmania -- Ex-Hawk Street's legacy lives on
(There's another article from Hawkmania about Street's last game here; you can also find some links to interesting archives stories and photos from the time of his death at those links.)