His legacy lives onRemembering Chris Street, 20 years later
It’s been nearly 20 years.
In fact, it’s tomorrow — Jan. 19, 2013 – that marks the 20th year that has passed since the night Chris Street, University of Iowa basketball star, died in a traffic accident.
Yet two decades later, his legacy remains.
“He played so hard — that’s his legacy as a player,” Jess Settles said. “He wasn’t necessarily the best player on the court, but he played harder than anyone. We’d always say that we were trying to play with ‘Chris Street intensity.’”
Settles, a Mt. Pleasant resident and former Hawkeye basketball standout himself, speaks highly of Street. When he was preparing to attend Iowa and play basketball there, Settles expected Street to be his mentor, teammate and friend.
The last thing he expected was to hear of his untimely and tragic death at the age of 20.
January 19, 1993, was a day that many Iowans — and sports fans around the country — mourned the loss of a great athlete and a great person.
Like many Iowans, Settles remembers exactly where he was when he heard that Street had died: on the bus with his W-MU teammates after a basketball game against Pekin. Settles was a senior at W-MU that year, preparing to play the next season with the Hawkeyes.
The accident had happened during the Pekin game, but with limited technology at the time, no one in the gym had yet heard.
Suddenly, on the ride home, the W-MU coach shushed his players and turned up the radio as the tragedy was announced.
“It was devastating news,” Settles said. “I planned on playing under him, training with him, and suddenly … he was gone.”
Street, an Indianola native, was in the middle of his junior season with the Hawkeyes that January. He was averaging 14.5 points and 9.5 rebounds through 15 games under then-coach Tom Davis, and had set an Iowa record by making 34 consecutive free throws.
He was a fan favorite for not only his talent, but his hard work and desire on the court. Many expected that he would be a first-round draft pick in the NBA.
Street’s No. 40 was retired by Hawkeyes in 1993, one of nine to receive the honor. There hasn’t been a number retired since.
No. 40 was also honored by the Iowa State Cyclones. The tragedy of losing such an exceptional player, an exceptional person, and an exceptional Iowan, far outweighed the rivalry between the teams.
Now-head coach Fred Hoiberg donned the No. 40 jersey to pay tribute to Street. To this day, wearing No. 40 is an honor that the Cyclones extend only to Iowans, in memory of the Hawkeye great.
One Iowan who was chosen to wear the jersey was Winfield’s Klay Edwards.
“They asked me if I would want to wear it; at the time, there weren’t many Iowans on the team,” Edwards said. “It was an honor to wear that jersey in his memory.”
Edwards, who graduated from W-MU in 1994, proudly wore No. 40 for all four years at Iowa State.
“I had known Chris (Street) a little playing Prime Time League in Iowa City, and I knew what kind of guy he was,” Edwards said. “I know Jess (Settles) always thought a lot of him, too.”
Today, none of the three Iowans on the Cyclone men’s basketball team are sporting the No. 40, but Street’s legacy continues to live on.
The Hawkeyes have declared Saturday Chris Street Memorial Day, and will honor him in their game against Wisconsin that night.
Settles will be there, along with many other former teammates and friends of Street.
“It will be good for Mike and Patty (Street, Chris’ parents) to see everyone and catch up,” Settles said. “Mike was always good at having the guys over to Indianola. He always wanted us, the next guys coming through, to see how Chris lived. He’s very good at keeping his legacy alive.”
Street’s legacy also remains through the Chris Street Memorial Men’s Basketball Scholarship at the Univesrity of Iowa and the annual Chris Street Memorial Golf Outing Monday at Finkbine Golf Course in Iowa City.
There is currently a Chris Street Memorial t-shirt for sale, with proceeds benefitting the Christopher Michael Street Memorial Foundation.
Twice a year in Indianola, there is a youth basketball tournament named in memory of the Iowa star as well as the Chris Street Memorial gym, located near the Indianola Middle School.
The Hawkeyes give out the Chris Street Award to “a Hawkeye player who best exemplifies the spirit, enthusiasm and intensity of Chris Street” at the end of every season — Settles was a three-time recipient of the Chris Street Award, including his freshman season, 1994.
“To get the award that first year was emotional, tough even,” Settles said. “It was such a fresh wound. It was bittersweet, but it was always an honor.”
See also: 'He was a great competitor'