When Luka Garza surpassed Roy Marble as the all-time leading scorer in men’s basketball history at the University of Iowa, few people were in attendance to cheer for him. Two of the select few there were a pair of friends that played a role in Luka Garza’s ability to score his 2,118th career points as a Hawkeye: Frank Garza and Hawkeye Elvis.
Greg Suckow, otherwise known as Hawkeye Elvis, began his friendship with Frank Garza two years earlier in Chicago at the 2019 Big Ten Tournament.
“He’s got a big personality and I’m the same way,” said Greg Suckow. “Lots of times those types of people automatically connect.”
“Greg, he’s a fascinating guy, right?” said Frank Garza. “I mean he’s a lawyer dressing up as Elvis. That itself is already like, ‘What?’ It got my attention.”
The Hawkeyes were coming off a 74-53 loss to the Michigan Wolverines and a sophomore Luka Garza was not yet the National Player of the Year that Iowa fans have come to know. At the time, critics were wondering if he was in the best situation for his career.
“We were at a down point at the Big Ten Tournament,” said Frank Garza. “At low points you know, you’re human and you let some of that stuff come through as a dad and go, ‘Jeez, wow, what’s going on here? What’s happening?'”
While the wins and losses in Luka Garza’s sophomore season improved, there were still problems for him off the court.
“We went through a lot,” said Frank Garza. “(Luka) had a 10-plus pound cyst removed. ‘Was he going to play?’ wasn’t even in there. It was, ‘Was he going to live? What’s under that cyst?’ A lot was going on and I was worn out.”
Beginning the season with a health scare, ending Big Ten play with a 21-point loss, and outside noise from fans questioning if Luka Garza was being used correctly and in the right playing situation, weighed heavy on the shoulders of a family that had already gone through so much.
“A lot wore us out physically and emotionally,” said Frank Garza. “We played on emotion because here he is coming to Iowa and he almost died at Iowa.”
The Garzas had a lot to try and handle over a short period of time. It just so happened that Hawkeye Elvis was there with Frank Garza at the Big Ten Tournament in 2019 to help talk him through a difficult situation.
“Greg really talked me off the ledge,” said Frank Garza. “Not that I was on the ledge. I was just really down about the future and what was going on. We really bonded there and I felt good about that.”
“You hang out and get to know these parents and they’re wonderful,” said Suckow. “They put up with a lot of criticism. That’s got to be tough. I applaud these parents who support their kids and listen to the not-so-good stuff sometimes.”
That conversation between the two helped show Frank Garza something he already knew.
“Greg is one of those special Hawkeyes,” said Frank Garza. “That’s what a friend does. A friend doesn’t tell you what you want to hear. Their job is to see it from a big — you know you can’t see everything yourself. That’s what Greg did.’
Now, the two share a bond that will last a lifetime.
“He’s a special guy for us,” said Frank Garza. “We’ll know him for the rest of our lives. Listen, the Hawkeye Nation is lucky to have him. He loves every athlete. He’s as loyal as can be.”
It’s a loyalty that knows no bounds or limits. To Frank Garza, Hawkeye Elvis perfect personifies what it means to be a Hawkeye.
“One of the fascinating things about Iowa is the wholesome people that are there,” said Frank Garza. “They’re people that have pride in friendships. Friendships are one of their values. The other thing is total loyalty to the Hawks, I mean total loyalty. The third is the absolute love of their state. Greg is one of those people.”
So it was only fitting in Frank Garza’s mind that Hawkeye Elvis got to see Luka Garza’s record-breaking performance in person.
“Physically getting to see Luka break (the record) is something he’ll never forget,” said Frank Garza. “He was thrilled to be able to be there. I know it’s a lifetime memory for him. I was happy he could be there.”
“I have to thank Frank Garza,” said Suckow. “I’ve gotten to be friends with Frank and I’m very fortunate he let me tag along that day. It was a dream come true.”