A Promise Fulfilled

A Promise Fulfilled

By Emily Rust

In 2001, DeAnthony Bowden, BS’18, sat with his mother in the office of then-head men’s basketball coach Dana Altman as his mother made a promise.

“She told Dana, ‘My son will graduate from Creighton,’” Bowden says.

Seventeen years later, Bowden has fulfilled his mother’s wish, graduating from Creighton’s College of Professional Studies in May.

Bowden was transferring from Jacksonville College, a junior college in Texas, when he and his mother met with Altman. During his two seasons at Creighton (2001-2002, 2002-2003), Bowden played alongside current NBA star Kyle Korver, BA’03, went to the NCAA Tournament twice, was named to the Missouri Valley Conference All-Defensive Team his senior year, and played against a Northern Iowa team that was coached by current Creighton coach Greg McDermott.

“I usually had my best games against Northern Iowa, against McDermott,” Bowden says. “He was going to do whatever he had to do to take Kyle (Korver) out of the game. By taking Kyle out of the game, it freed up some of the other players.”

His first season at Creighton, the Bluejays advanced to the NCAA Tournament as a No. 12 seed and would face No. 5 seed Florida in the first round of the Midwest Regional in Chicago.

A native of Hammond, Indiana, it felt like a home game to Bowden. Before the game started, Bowden and his teammates visited the statue of Michael Jordan outside the United Center for a bit of inspiration.

Creighton rallied with a 10-2 run in the final two minutes to tie the game at the end of regulation. The game was tied again after the first overtime. A large Illinois crowd, coming to see the Illini in the next game, had joined Creighton fans in cheering for the underdog Bluejays. Then, with less than a second left in the second overtime, Bowden’s teammate, Terrell Taylor, knocked down a three-pointer for a dramatic Creighton win.

“Everyone in the arena was rooting for us,” Bowden says. “The place was so loud.” It would be one of the last games Bowden’s mother attended before she died of cancer in 2006.

With his NCAA eligibility up, Bowden went into the 2003 NBA draft. He went through several training camps and played in the NBA summer league for five years. His basketball career then took him overseas — to east Asia and Canada — and to minor league teams in the U.S. After 14 years of professional basketball, Bowden was hired by a team in Canada as its assistant general manager. But he realized he wanted something more.

“I wanted to challenge myself and give back to the community,” Bowden says. “Put myself in a situation where I could benefit the younger kids.”

He decided to return to Oklahoma, where he had played professionally, to be a basketball coach and athletic director at Lawton Christian School.

“The good thing about coaching on a high school level is you’re a mentor and kids look up to you,” Bowden says. “It’s easier for kids to listen to me because of the success I had.”

While he was overseas playing professionally, Bowden received a call from teammate Larry House, BS’11, a fellow junior college transfer. House had returned to finish his degree.

“He said, ‘You need to finish. You need to get this degree.’” Bowden told House that he didn’t have the time then to dedicate to school. “He said, ‘When you find time, I really want you to go get (your degree).’ I said, ‘You know what, I’m going to do that.’”

So, once he retired from professional basketball, Bowden made a call to Creighton’s College of Professional Studies and enrolled online.

Bowden already owned businesses and had a career as a high school basketball coach, so he didn’t necessarily need his degree, but, he says, “I had to go back and get it for myself.” He also wanted to be a role model for the young athletes he was now coaching.

“It made them respect me more knowing that I stand by the motto that if you start something, you must finish,” Bowden says.

In May, he walked across the stage at the CenturyLink Center Omaha and received his Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in business management and entrepreneurship with a minor in marketing. His family cheered him on in the audience.

He and his family toured the Championship Center and met up with coach McDermott and Patty Galas, longtime administrative assistant for the men’s basketball program.

In Galas’ hands was the 2002-2003 men’s basketball media directory. She handed it to DeAnthony Jr., Bowden’s 10-year-old son, who loved seeing his father on the cover.

“I’m glad to be an alumnus,” Bowden says. “Who wouldn’t want to be a Bluejay?”