Remembering a Friend
Dec. 12, 2012
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Fred Hoiberg was in his room studying like college students do, Jan. 19, 1993, when the news aired on television.
His friend, Chris Street, had died.
"It was so surreal," Hoiberg said. "You couldn't believe it, it was a very sad day."
Nearly 20 years have passed since that evening when Street passed away in an automobile accident on Highway 1 at Interstate 80. He was 15 games into his junior season on the Hawkeye men's basketball team. Iowa City police said Street was driving a car that was hit by a Johnson County snowplow. The accident occurred as Street was exiting the Highlander Restaurant following a team meal on the eve of the Hawkeyes' game against Northwestern.
Hoiberg, now the head men's basketball coach at his alma mater Iowa State, was a basketball teammate of Street's on the Iowa Select Team. Hoiberg is from Ames, Street from Indianola. Although just 50 miles separate the communities, Hoiberg and Street, quarterbacks and star basketball players, never competed against each other in high school.
They cemented a friendship during their days on the amateur basketball circuit.
"I played with Chris on some different all-star teams," Hoiberg said Friday, hours before his Cyclones faced Iowa inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. "I developed a great relationship with him. If we had practice in Des Moines one day, and then had practice the next morning, I would stay at Chris's house. We developed a very good bond. He was a special talent. He was a great player and even a better person. The way he worked and the way he approached things, you knew he would be successful at whatever he put his mind to."
The first time they played each other in college on Dec. 14, 1991, in Ames, Iowa State defeated Iowa, 98-84. Street pulled down 11 rebounds and scored five points; Hoiberg scored 11 points with nine assists and seven rebounds.
Their final meeting was Dec. 12, 1992, in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes won, 78-51, with Street scoring 12 points and grabbing 10 rebounds; Hoiberg scored one point with five rebounds.
Street's No. 40 was retired by the UI on Feb. 6, 1993, when Iowa played Indiana. To honor Street, the Cyclones and head coach Johnny Orr, allowed an in-state player on their roster to wear No. 40. Hoiberg, the state's Mr. Basketball in 1991, who went on to score 1,993 collegiate points, was a recipient of the No. 40 jersey. (Hoiberg's original No. 32 has been retired by Iowa State).
"I always looked forward to the (Iowa-Iowa State) game and playing in the series, but at the end of day, we're all Iowans and I think people respected the fact we did that for Chris," Hoiberg said. "More importantly, it was a sign to Chris and a sign to his family that he will never be forgotten."
Cyclones to don the No. 40 are Morgan Wheat of West Des Moines (1993), Hoiberg (1994), Loren Meyer of Ruthven (1995), Klay Edwards of Morning Sun (1996-99), Brad Davis of Knoxville (2000-02), Dave Braet of Calamus (2004-05), Ross Marsden of Ames (2006-07), and Mark Currie of Odebolt (2008) . There are three Iowans currently on the Cyclone roster, but none wear 40.
"For Iowa State to do that was tremendously classy," said Gary Close, a former Hawkeye assistant coach. "I know the family appreciated it, we appreciated it, and it was a great example of putting things in the proper perspective and appreciating what Chris had done."
Street hailed from central Iowa, but reports of his death warranted top billing on national sports networks.
"So many people had so much respect for Chris because of the way he approached his life," Hoiberg said. "He was a great student, he was a great athlete, and he was a great person. He touched a lot of lives."
The memory of Street will be honored by the University of Iowa on the 20th anniversary of his death -- Jan. 19, 2013 -- during a home game against Wisconsin.