There's a tattoo on the right arm of Darrell Bowie that reads, "Only the Strong Survive."
It is fitting considering the path Bowie has traveled since starring for Wauwatosa East High School as a sophomore and junior.
But Bowie's basketball career, at least collegiately, ended back in the city where it started, when Iowa State was eliminated by Purdue on March 18 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
"It has been a long and rough journey," Bowie said. "I won't say everything has been good. But you are going to go through tough times in life. Someone always told me whenever I was struggling that, 'through every dark night there's a brighter day.' I just live by that and carry myself the right way."
Bowie came to Tosa East as a sophomore and immediately made an impact for Tim Arndorfer's Red Raiders, averaging 12.4 points per game to earn honorable-mention All Greater Metro Conference in 2009-10.
As a junior, Bowie averaged 12.9 points and 8.3 rebounds to earn Now Newspapers All-Suburban honors and first-team All-Greater Metro. He led Tosa East to a 15-7 record, but the Red Raiders were upset in the opening round of the playoffs by Milwaukee Lutheran.
Instead of finishing his prep career at Tosa East, Bowie headed west to La Jolla Country Day School in San Diego, where he did not appear in a game during his senior season due to injury.
"I remember good times at Tosa East," Bowie said. "We had two successful seasons. I do remember getting upset in the first round by Milwaukee Lutheran my junior season on a game-winning shot. Even back then, the game-winning shot humbled me to never take a team lightly or overlook a team. It sticks with me even now."
Bowie began his college career at Northern Illinois, where he played in 82 games and made 66 starts over three seasons with the Huskies, averaging 8.3 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.
He scored 9.6 points with 6.5 rebounds per game as a sophomore and was averaging 9.8 points and 5.4 rebounds as a junior before a shoulder injury ended his season.
Bowie redshirted in 2015-16 after undergoing shoulder surgery before opting to exercise his ability to transfer for his final season of eligibility as a graduate student.
After weighing his options, which included Marquette, Bowie was lured to Iowa State by then-Cyclones assistant and current South Dakota State head coach T.J. Otzelberger.
Otzelberger, who played at Saint Thomas More High School and UW-Whitewater, opened up a pipeline of Milwaukee kids flocking to Ames.
Eight players from Milwaukee have played at Iowa State since Otzelberger brought Mike Taylor (Milwaukee Marshall) with him from Chipola College in 2005-06. Taylor was followed by Diante Garrett (Vincent), Calvin Godfrey (Custer), Korie Lucious (Pius XI), Jameel McKay (Pulaski), Deonte Burton (Vincent), Donovan Jackson (Pius XI) and Bowie. Terrence Lewis of Milwaukee Riverside will join the Iowa State program in the fall.
"I think it's huge," Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said. "Obviously, this program has had a lot of success here. The pipeline has been very good, and so hopefully we continue that.
"It's something we can hopefully continue. The city has been very good for us, recruiting-wise. It's great to be in a location where their families can come and our fans can come."
Of those eight players, only Garrett came to Iowa State as a true freshman, with the other seven transferring in.
In addition to the Milwaukee players, Scott Christopherson of LaCrosse Aquinas, Antwon Oliver of Racine Horlick and Matt Thomas of Onalaska have played for the Cyclones.
"We all entered at different times, so we've had different learning curves," Burton said. "We're all really close. We help each other. When we might get homesick, we help each other out.
"It is just the right fit. Milwaukee players have a certain style of play. Iowa State just fits that style."
When the NCAA Selection Show revealed Milwaukee as the destination for Iowa State, Cyclones coach Steve Prohm approached Bowie and asked his senior forward what his thoughts on returning home. His emotions were mixed, as he was excited to play in his hometown for the first time since leaving Tosa East, but he also knew that with it came distractions.
Bowie's phone immediately became inundated with text messages, as family and friends sought tickets. Once Bowie got to Milwaukee, he holed up in his hotel room in order to focus on Iowa State's first-round game with Nevada on March 16.
"Everybody was reaching out to me," Bowie said. "But I told them that the NCAA only gives me six tickets, so if you love me that much, go to Ticketmaster."
The fifth-seeded Cyclones took care of the the 12th-seeded Wolfpack, 84-73, as Bowie contributed 8 points and five rebounds in 14 minutes off the bench. But in what was a microcosm of his lone season in Ames, Bowie had just 2 points and three rebounds in 13 minutes in Iowa State's second-round loss to Purdue on March 18.
Bowie averaged 8.4 points and 6.8 rebounds over Iowa State's first nine games before moving into the starting lineup for a Dec. 17 game against Drake. He started the next nine games, scoring 6.3 points with 3.4 rebounds per game. After being replaced by freshman Solomon Young in the starting lineup, Bowie played sparingly over the final 10 games of the regular season, scoring just 20 total points.
He played a big role in Iowa State's Big 12 quarterfinal win over Oklahoma State with 13 points and 4 rebounds in 22 minutes and then scored 10 points with six rebounds in a conference tournament championship game victory over West Virginia.
"I've had my ups and downs throughout the season," Bowie said. "But we've been winning. That's one thing I can pride myself on. It was big to win the Big 12 (tournament) championship. A lot of people don't get to do that. A lot of kids from my city don't get to do that.."
Although Bowie's time on the big stage in front of his hometown was just for two games, he's hopeful his story, along with those of Burton and Jackson, can show the youth in Milwaukee that there is a path for them to follow.
"It meant a lot to be back home and play in front of my family and friends," Bowie said. "I hope kids came out and realized that we were just like them and just in their shoes. I hope we give those guys hope that there are bigger things in Milwaukee than just what is going on violence-wise.
"I want to let them know that there are bigger things and there's more to life out there for them. I had a good foundation around me with family and friends. I went to public school, so I had friends that went that route. But I was the type to be in the gym. Basketball brought me peace. That was my peace. Every time I was on the court, I felt at home and happy. Any time I could get in the gym I was not out doing what I knew I shouldn't have been doing or being around the negativity and violence. I just had a good foundation. My parents raised me well and my friends pushed me. If fights broke out, they pushed me away and made sure I was out of the scene.
"We all talk about what we want to do for our city, which is represent it in a positive light."