Students, faculty celebrate life of Jordan Hankins at memorial


Oreste Visentini/The Daily Northwestern

Christen Johnson (Medill ’16) speaks at a memorial for Weinberg sophomore Jordan Hankins. The memorial was held at Alice Millar Chapel on Wednesday night.

Yvonne Kim, Assistant Campus Editor

Students and faculty gathered at Alice Millar Chapel Wednesday evening for the memorial of women’s basketball player Jordan Hankins, who took her own life Jan. 9.

The memorial service was organized by a group of Hankins’ friends, said University chaplain Timothy Stevens, who spoke at the event. About 70 people, including several members of the women’s basketball team, attended the memorial.

Christen Johnson (Medill ’16) — a former member of the basketball team and staff member at Athletes in Action, a Christian ministry for athletes — facilitated the event. She said her relationship with Hankins, who was a freshman when Johnson was on the team, was a special one.

Hankins was also an active member of Athletes in Action and a devout Christian from a young age, Johnson said.

Johnson read from the Bible, quoting Revelation 21:3 and 4, echoing Stevens’ sentiment that death is not the end for Hankins. She said that Hankins is now free from the hardships of life.

“She’s OK,” Johnson said. “She’s safe. She’s happy.”

Attendees were invited to speak openly and voice thoughts or memories about Hankins. Deputy director of athletics Janna Blais said she will always remember Hankins as “fearless,” especially on the basketball court.

She described the last game Hankins played in, a loss that was “extremely difficult” for the team.

“The last thing I texted to my boss was, ‘Jordan’s going in the game. You know we’ll be okay, because she plays fearless and that’s what we need right now,’” Blais said. “And that’s really how I plan on remembering Jordan.”

Coach Joe McKeown also spoke about Hankins, sharing fond memories of seeing how much she enjoyed a boat trip in Chicago during her visit to the university as a high school student. He said he knew she needed to come to NU.

“Whenever she would come to our house if we had team functions … my 78-year-old mother-in-law lives with us, (and) Jordan would always hang out with her and kiss her on the cheek,” McKeown said. “We’re always going to remember those things and that million-dollar smile.”

Johnson concluded the open mic session with a prayer, during which those who were present lit candles in Hankins’ memory. Attendees then gathered outside to release white balloons into the sky that said, “We love you, Jordan.”

“We wanted to celebrate her life and remember all that she was,” Johnson told The Daily.

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