Luka Garza's father, Frank, becoming a mini-celebrity in his own right as top Hawkeye fan
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Iowa basketball star Luka Garza isn't the only member of his family whose national profile has been rising.
His father, Frank, has become a ubiquitous part of every Hawkeye TV broadcast. At 6-foot-6 and with thick, silver hair, he's hard to miss.
Garza, who has attended all of his son's games the past three years, became truly prominent last March, when he wore a microphone during the broadcast of Iowa's NCAA Tournament loss against Tennessee.
"You've got to let the peacock fly!" became a viral quote from the mouth of the passionate and loquacious Garza. It's become his mantra.
"It's kind of a cry, 'Let it go. Let it fly,'" Garza explained to the Register before a recent Iowa game. "Because when people see peacocks fly, they're like, 'My God, I didn't know they could fly.'"
Garza knows. He used to raise peacocks, and ostriches, when he lived in northern California. Of course he did.
Now Garza is bringing that phrase to a T-shirt, with 55% of the proceeds earmarked for secondary schools in Iowa and 45% to the "Elevate" youth sports program in the Washington, D.C., area, where Luka played as a youngster. Luka Garza's grandfather, James Halm, will manage the distribution of the money from the non-profit.
You can find the T-shirts at letthepeacockfly.com.
Garza had a contest among graphic designers to come up with the look of the T-shirt.
He was mic'd up again for Iowa's Thursday game at Maryland, wearing one of his new shirts.
But Garza, who is up to 3,709 Twitter followers, doesn't think "fame" is the right word to describe what has happened to him.
"That's interesting," he said when it was brought up. "I just hope it reflects positively on the university and on the team. My message is that any player can do what Luka did if they just took the time to do it. Luka is doing everything that he can do, and he's avoiding the things that he can't do."
Mark Emmert covers the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Register. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 319-339-7367. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkEmmert.
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