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* * * John Wooden, 99, Passes Away * * *

2010 June 4

• dEDGE Post Scriptum •

John Wooden, the Wizard of Westwood has passed away. Wooden, (born Oct. 14, 1910) died of natural causes at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center at the age of 99. He was hospitalized there since May 26 and was reportedly being treated for dehydration. But as his condition grew more and more grave, many athletes and sports figures visited him to say their final good-byes. Among them were former Bruins Bill Walton, Mike Warren, Jamaal Wilkes and current Dodgers skipper, Joe Torre. Wilkes, on a recent visit with Wooden earlier this week, was present in the room when the former coach asked his son, James, to shave him. James commented, “when he got shaved he was getting ready to see Nellie.”

I can go on and on about the amazing records and accomplishments that Wooden achieved as coach of the UCLA basketball program. But his greatest gift goes beyond the basketball hardwood. Wooden would instill his players with life-lessons on how to live life the right way.

Learn as if you were to live forever; live as if you were to die tomorrow.

Don’t give up on your dreams, or your dreams will give up on you.

The list of Laker players who attended UCLA is a long and distinguished one. And even though some never even played under Wooden, all knew of him and his “Pyramid of Success.” Among them were, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Lucius Allen, Trevor Ariza, Keith Erickson, Jordan Farmar, Gail Goodrich, Jack Haley, Walt Hazzard, Brad Holland, Mike Lynn, Jelani McCoy, Tracy Murray, Swen Nater, Keith Owens, Jamaal Wilkes, and Trevor Wilson. And the number of Bruins who played or are playing in the NBA is just as impressive. As of this season, there have been 77 former Bruins who made it to the NBA. No other college or university comes close.

Wooden is survived by his son and daughter, three grandsons, four granddaughters and 13 great-grandchildren. Funeral services will be private with a public memorial held later along with a reception for former players and coaches.

2 Responses
  1. STEVE-O permalink*
    June 5, 2010

    It was 1975 and I was 12 yrs. old and my mom informed me that we were lucky enough to be invited to hear Coach Wooden speak to our Boy Scout troop. I was thrilled beyond all comprehension. I was really getting into basketball at the time and was chomping at the bit to ask the Wizard of Westwood some questions about Richard Washington and Marques Johnson but more so about my favorite player, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was just acquired by the Lakers.

    To my dismay, his lecture wasn’t about UCLA basketball or his accomplishments, but rather about some sort of Pyramid of Success. I was a little confused but as he went on, he spliced his teachings into how it translated onto the basketball court. But he kept emphasizing how little basketball meant to him and how important living honestly and earnestly was the key to true success.

    I recall my mom and all of the other parents just being mesmerized by Coach Wooden. We all got an autographed copy of his Pyramid of Success book and although I went away feeling somewhat cheated, I later looked on that night as getting the opportunity to meet someone famous and profound. It wasn’t until much, much later that I actually read his book and took heart to what he was saying. Sometimes the hardest things in life are actually the easiest to accomplish. It’s just a matter of breaking it down into it’s simplest form to find the true meaning of what you are looking for.

    RIP John Wooden, and thank you for taking the time to speak to a group of kids, particularly one who eventually grasped what you were trying to teach.

  2. Babble Ball permalink
    June 5, 2010

    Peace and Amen!

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