Iowa Men's Basketball

Former Iowa basketball player Kenny Arnold dead at 59

Arnold was integral part of Hawkeyes' 1980 Final Four team

Iowa basketball player Kenny Arnold (30) receives instructions from Hawkeyes head coach Lute Olson during a game at the Iowa Fieldhouse during the 1979-80 season.
Iowa basketball player Kenny Arnold (30) receives instructions from Hawkeyes head coach Lute Olson during a game at the Iowa Fieldhouse during the 1979-80 season.

Kenny Arnold, a vital part of Iowa’s 1980 men’s basketball Final Four team, died Saturday at 59 in Chicago.

Mike Henry, Arnold’s best friend and Hawkeyes teammate, was at his side.

“He was comfortable and it was a peaceful transition at the end,” Henry said in a press release.

Arnold battled a number of health issues for over 30 years, including a brain tumor and several strokes that took away his ability to speak.

He played at Iowa from 1979 to 1982. As a sophomore starter, he averaged 13.5 points and 4.3 assists for the 1980 team, taking on a bigger role when star point guard Ronnie Lester missed a significant part of the season with a knee injury. Arnold played with a broken thumb that season.

Arnold, a Chicago native, scored 1,112 career points. He ranks 37th at Iowa in all-time scoring and 10th in assists.

He was taken by the Dallas Mavericks with the 96th overall pick in the 1982 NBA draft.

“All of us within the Iowa basketball family are deeply saddened to hear the news of Kenny’s passing,” said Iowa head men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Arnold family. We lost one of the most inspirational players our program has ever had. Kenny always had a smile on his face and cared most about the happiness of others. His spirit and legacy will not be forgotten.”

In 2017, Iowa introduced the Kenny Arnold Spirit Award at its postseason award ceremony. This annual award is presented to the Hawkeye who exemplifies Arnold’s spirit of leadership, character, courage, determination, and poise. This year’s honoree was sophomore forward Luka Garza.

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“Kenny was a winner and a leader,” Henry said. “Through his positive attitude and courageous fight, he was a tremendous example for all of us. He was a wonderful friend and always had a smile for everyone. Kenny greatly appreciated all the love and support that he received from the Iowa fan base through the years. That support helped fuel his determination to keep going.”

The Kenny Arnold Foundation was established to raise funds for cancer research and education.

l Comments: (319) 368-8840; mike.hlas@thegazette.com

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