Friday, January 20, 2012

Remembering The Night We Lost Chris Street

Chris Street would have been 40 years old in less than two weeks. That's hard to believe. The number 40 is not forgotten in Iowa. Thursday, 19 years after Street's death, Hawkeye fans remembered where they were when the got the shocking news Street was dead. Many people shared that they broke down and cried. Others were young and remember seeing their mom or dad in tears. More than a few said their parents woke them up to give the sad news. It just didn't seem possible that someone as big and strong and full of life as Chris Street could be gone. And right in the middle of the season.

For me, time stood still. I think I just froze. I snapped out of it, and led the newscast with news no one wanted. This was before twitter, facebook, and texts, so I knew the gravity of the moment, and through the studio doors, I heard every phone in the newsroom begin ringing immediately. They wouldn't stop all night.

Iowa's game the next night with Northwestern would be postponed. No one would ever forget Iowa's emotional comeback win at Michigan State. Or the home win versus a good Michigan team. Street's mom and dad were courtside, and when they were handed the game ball, you couldn't find a dry eye in the place.

Street's death resonated well beyond Hawkeye fans. It's difficult to understand if you had never seen him play, or never watched him interact with kids, but it was not surprising when Iowa State announced a Cyclone from Iowa would wear the #40. The first to do it: Fred Hoiberg. A Cyclone hasn't worn 40 for a few years, but it would be nice for Coach Hoiberg to restart the honor.
Chris Street
Street lives on in other ways. Through basketball tournaments, gymnasiums, and awards that carry his name. It's the stories about the kind of player he was, more importantly the kind of person he was, that really keep his legacy alive.

For an article that shows the mood in 1993 far better than I have, click here:
(Thank you to Justin VanLaere for the link.)


Anonymous said...

I played junior high basketball against Street when he played for Morman Trail High which is in Garden Grove Iowa. Chris's parents moved to Indianola so he would get more exposure to college teams. He was a men amongst boys even in 8th grade. I had to try to guard him and he was a dirty player. Throwing elbows and stepping on feet, that sort of thing. Not to run down a dead man, but just a little background. TED LAYTON

Anonymous said...

Wow. Ted, that background info is totally irrelevant to this story. Sounds like you are the dirty player. Taking a "cheap shot" at someone who has passed away. I am sure you have your own memories of Chris just like everyone else does. I'm just not sure that people are really going to care to read yours esp. with your choice of words. RIP Chris Street.

Anonymous said...

Tell me of a power forward that doesn't throw a few elbows and step on a few toes, especially at the age you're talking about, Ted. I'm sure when you were a preteen you had full control over your limbs, but some of us who are vertically enhanced weren't so graceful right then. I'm sorry you have held a grudge for over 25 years. Let the rest of us honor the man Chris Street grew into. I'm a Cyclone, but even I was shell shocked that night. ~Becki Raffay

Scott said...

I was at the VA a couple months ago, this older couple was sitting next to me. The Man was having trouble with his phone, I helped him, we started talking. I told them I played football at Iowa, they say "Oh thats where our grandson whent to school." "Oh yeah?" I say. "Chris played basketball" I just reacted by saying "Chris Street?" "Oh you knew him?" they asked. "Everyone who payed attention college basketball knew him." I remember our coach telling us the next morning at our AM Two-A_Day B-ball practice. I remember thinking they would discover it really wasnt him.

Zach B said...

I wore the #40 for one reason all through my highschool years! Kids these days just dont know the hardwork that he put in! His work ethic and drive were motivating factors for me in sports. I'll always remember the #40!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for remembering Chris. I remember exactly where I was when I received the news. The Street family are relatives of mine. The whole Humeston community grieved.

Anonymous said...

I was just a small child when Chris had passed away. I didn't get to see Chris play, but I know my parents and family friends always watched Hawkeye basketball and always spoke very fondly of Chris. Though I was so young and do not remember much from back then, I do remember just how sad everyone was when the accident happen and he tragically lost his life. I'm glad to see his memory is not forgotten. Reading this blog brought tears to my eyes. A life cut too short, but Heaven gained a great guy. Thanks for sharing.