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Friday, January 18, 2013

Gary Close- Chris Street

Sad story- from the Wisconsin State Journal, talking about the death of Iowa star, Chris Street 20 years ago.

Right around 7 p.m. on Saturday night, University of Wisconsin men's basketball assistant coach Gary Close will take his seat on the visiting bench at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City.
By that point, he'll have spent countless hours watching film and preparing a scouting report on Iowa so that the first-place Badgers (13-4, 4-0 Big Ten) will have all the information they need to take on the Hawkeyes (12-5, 1-3).
Earlier this week, Close broke down Indiana's tendencies and presented them to the Badgers, who followed coach Bo Ryan's game plan to the letter and emerged with a stunning 64-59 road victory over the No. 2 Hoosiers on Tuesday night.
By the next morning, Close was back in his office at the Kohl Center breaking down clips on the Hawkeyes. Just another scouting report on a Big Ten team.
Well, not quite.

The tipoff for Saturday's game will mark the 20-year anniversary of the death — almost to the minute — of former Iowa player Chris Street. There will be a ceremony at halftime in memory of Street, who was a 20-year-old, 6-foot-8 junior forward on his way to becoming one of the Hawkeyes' all-time greats at the time of his death.
It was a little before 7 p.m. on Jan. 19, 1993, when Street was killed after the car he was driving collided with a dump truck mounted with a snow plow on the west edge of Iowa City.
Close, an Iowa assistant at the time, was at his home preparing for an opponent when he received the phone call informing him of Street's death. He had served as the lead recruiter during a process that ended with Street, a native of Indianola in western Iowa, committing to Hawkeyes coach Tom Davis.
"It was shocking," Close said. "It was hard to put into words. Here one minute and gone the next."
'He was competitive'
Street was on his way back to campus for a night class after leaving a team meal when he pulled his Chrysler LeBaron onto Iowa Highway 1 and was struck by the dump truck.
The snow plow blade caved in the driver's side of the Street's car, causing the LeBaron to flip over and collide with another vehicle. Street was killed instantly; his girlfriend Kimberly Vinton, a passenger in the car, survived the accident.
Those are the details Close, who was tentatively scheduled to spend time with Street later that night, would rather not think about. He has plenty of good memories about the young man he says "had a zest for life."
Like three days before the accident, when Street had helped the No. 13 Hawkeyes push No. 3 Duke, the two-time defending NCAA champion, to the limit at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Street was named Iowa's player of the game by the CBS commentators after a 65-56 loss to the Blue Devils.
"That was a knock-'em-down, drag-it-out game," Close said. "It was one blow after another. And Chris was right in the middle of it."
Close remembers one particular moment when Duke point guard Bobby Hurley was complaining to an official. Street had finally heard enough.
"Chris said, 'Why don't you just be quiet? You're too good of a player to be doing that. Why don't you just play?'" Close said. "And then he kind of laughed it off.
"He was very competitive, and that's why he was good."
Special bond
Close still keeps in close contact with Street's parents, Mike and Patty. The Streets have made the trip to Madison for games a few times and stayed with Close and his family.
"There was a bond before Chris's death, but even more afterward," Mike Street said this week in a phone interview. "Gary is a very close extension of our family."
Chris Street arrived at Iowa as a bit of a project because he had never concentrated on just one sport, but his drive and tireless work ethic had helped him develop into a rising star who was turning the heads of NBA scouts.
"We were at the Ohio State game (earlier in January) and he really played well, and I got a chance to go up to him after the game and say, 'Son, you made it. You made that level in the Big Ten that you wanted to get to. You got there,'" Mike Street said. "And he probably knew that. But I was just really glad that I got to tell him that, because he thought I was hard on him sometimes."
Close thinks of Street every time he steps foot in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. In fact, he thinks of Street every time he sees somebody wearing No. 40, no matter the sport.
Street was in Close's thoughts on Jan. 19, 2006, when his wife, Kellie, gave birth to the couple's second child, a daughter named Ellen.
Close looked up at the clock in a room at Meriter Hospital after seeing his daughter for the first time. It was a few minutes after 7 p.m.

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