COLUMBIA — When Laurence Bowers took to center court during the Missouri men’s basketball game against Baylor, he wasn’t being recognized as a player but as a recipient of the prestigious Mizzou '39 award.
During a timeout in the first half of the game, Bowers stepped away from Missouri’s huddle and walked slowly over to the line of students being recognized as recipients of the award. He pumped his fists in the air then pointed with two fingers toward his family in the stands.
The Alumni Association Student Board presents the award to seniors who have displayed outstanding service to the community and the university, academic achievement and leadership.
Tami Chievous, an assistant director of academic services for intercollegiate athletics, nominated Bowers, who is recovering from a season-ending ACL injury, because of the support he has provided for the basketball team, as well as his academic achievement and the work he has done in the community. When Bowers found out he won the award, she was the first person he contacted.
“I told Miss Tami first, then I told my girlfriend, then I told my family,” Bowers said.
Bowers has given back to the community in a variety of ways, including reading to children in Columbia schools, helping with Special Olympics, visiting the Children’s Hospital and assisting with basketball camps in the area.
Missouri junior forward Andy Rosburg sits next to Bowers during games and rooms with him during road trips. He said Bowers has made his experience with the team an enjoyable one.
“On the basketball court, he’s a leader. He’s a vocal guy. But then, also, he’s very dedicated to the community. He goes out and does a lot of community work, extracurricular things along with getting good grades in school and getting into grad school now. He’s worked very hard in the community,” Rosburg said.
Bowers will graduate in May with his bachelor’s degree in sociology. He’s also dual enrolled in graduate-level classes this semester, and he plans to pursue his master’s degree in psychology or health education.
“Anything dealing with people, I think I’d do well,” Bowers said about his future career path.
After Missouri defeated Baylor 72-57, Bowers took time to reach up into the stands to high-five fans before heading to the locker room with the team. Afterward, he came out and greeted the children waiting for autographs and made sure to give each one his undivided attention.
Bowers’ outgoing personality is one of his aunt’s favorite things about him. Mary Ann Bowers is a seventh-grade teacher, and when Laurence Bowers was growing up, she helped him study and worked hard to instill in him a strong work ethic.
“I got on his nerves a whole lot, but you see what it ended up being,” Mary Ann Bowers said. “Me being an educator, it’s just in me to make sure that he would rise to the occasion. I always wanted him to be on top and do his best.”
His mother, Nancy Rita Bowers, said Laurence Bowers has been a high achiever throughout his life.
“I am extremely, extremely proud of him,” she said of him receiving the award.
Bowers plans on finishing his master’s degree within the next year as he plays his final year with the Missouri basketball team. After finishing his time with the Tigers, he wants to play in the NBA.
“I want to pursue professional basketball,” Laurence Bowers said. “But after that, it’s wherever God takes me.”