The one, meaningful word Iowa's Jordan Bohannon writes on his basketball shoes

Chad Leistikow
Hawk Central

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Before this season started, Jordan Bohannon decided he would write the word “Why” on his basketball shoes.

Why the why?

As you might expect with Iowa’s junior point guard, there’s always a deeper meaning.

Bohannon, after all, is the guy who purposely missed a free throw so that late Hawkeye legend Chris Street wouldn’t have his school record broken. For Bohannon, basketball is just part of his journey.

“I think everyone needs a why,” he said Saturday in advance of Iowa's second-round NCAA Tournament game against Tennessee, “in whatever profession they have.”

Jordan Bohannon scored 13 points in his NCAA Tournament debut Friday against Cincinnati.

As perhaps the most recognizable player on the Hawkeye basketball team, Bohannon realized early in his college life that he could use his local fame to make a difference.

When he saw the emotional lifts from his visits to the young patients at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital, that became eye-opening for his life.

A star basketball player showing he cares, even for a few minutes, can carry a great impact.

“I realized how much of an impact we really have on the community. It really touched my heart,” Bohannon said. “Realizing just stepping foot on campus when people say ‘Go Hawks’ to you … it contributes to the ‘why’ I have.”

Why do you do what you do?

If you don’t have a good answer … why are you doing it?

More preview coverage of Iowa's game against Tennessee:

Bohannon learned the impact of the word “why” from a military training program that the basketball team endured before his freshman year. Those rigorous two days left him inspired to, as he said, “protect” his why for whatever came his way.

But it wasn’t until this season that he started writing the word on his shoes.

During his sophomore season, he experienced painful plantar fasciitis in his foot … and played through it. A 14-19 team record and criticism he heard from the outside bothered him personally.

Before this season, he wanted to remind himself about what’s important.

And, more importantly, what’s not.

“Last year was really tough. Going back to my roots, that was my priority this season,” said Bohannon, who with his next 3-pointer will tie Jeff Horner for the career school record of 262. “Going back to what I believe in. I had to fix myself spiritually, mentally and physically. That really contributed to the word why.

“Every time, I put on my shoe I think about that. That helps me get through games and the season.”