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Val Barnes 'should have been in the car'

[ 0 ] January 13, 2013 |

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Every time Chris Street comes up in a conversation, Val Barnes can only wonder: What if?

Barnes rode with Street and his girlfriend, Kim Vinton Williams, to the team meal at the Highlander Supper Club the night of Jan. 19, 1993. He was going to leave with them, too, until teammate James Winters offered Barnes a ride at the last minute.

Street died shortly after his Chrysler LeBaron was hit by a Johnson County snowplow as Street pulled onto Highway 1 just north of Interstate 80.

“You know, I probably should have been in the car,” Barnes said.

That night, when Barnes got back to his apartment, his message light was blinking.

“You knew something had gone wrong,” Barnes said, “because they asked that everyone get right over to (Carver-Hawkeye Arena) as soon as they could.”

For Barnes, now 41, that night was a chilling reminder of how fragile — and precious — life can be. It’s a lesson he preaches to his three sons and one daughter.

“What I do with my family,

my kids, is help them to enjoy life and live in the moment,” said Barnes, who finished his three-year Iowa career with 1,181 points, ranking him No. 22 on the school’s scoring list.

He now works for the University of Iowa Foundation.

“That’s something Chris always did,” Barnes said. “You just have to live in the moment, live for what we have today and not look to tomorrow. Because it’s not guaranteed.”

Barnes was angry at first over the loss of Street. That hard, emotional edge has softened over two decades.

“I’m over the anger,” he said. “I think I’m more reflective of the presence that Chris gave, the selflessness that he had. The spirit of always living each day to the fullest. And through his death, unfortunately, I’ve learned to live each day to the fullest and not take anything for granted.”

Street is gone, but Barnes will never forget him.

“I have many, many positive memories that I can look back on,” Barnes said. “I’m happy to say I was his teammate and a good friend of his.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

About Rick Brown: Rick Brown covers men's basketball for The Des Moines Register and Hawk Central. He's married and the father of two. He also covers golf for the Register. View author profile.

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