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Coach John R. Wooden was born on October 14th, 1910 in Hall, Indiana to Roxie Anna and Joshua Hugh Wooden. He is an Intergalactic Treasure and today we wish him a very, very Happy Birthday! Join us here in celebrating his life and your sharing your thoughts about this great man.
Happy Birthday Coach! We want to thank you for all you have done for our University. You, more than anyone, are our model for what it means to be a Bruin and a wonderful human being. The stories people share about you and your own words, show that you not only talked the talk, but you knew how to walk the walk. You lived a humble life under the brightest lights. You put people and teaching above winning. You knew that doing things the right way was more important than glory. Yet, in choosing the path of humility, teaching, and character above all else, you succeeded in the more conventional sense of the word (winning) more than any other. You were named the Greatest Coach of All Time by Sporting News. You created records that will probably never be matched, yet you always stayed true to yourself and to your core principles:
All time 40 year winning percentage .813 (Dayton High School, South Bend Central High School, Indiana State Teachers College, U.C.L.A.
Perhaps however, the most important "records" can be found in the way you lived your life and in how you affected others. First, your great love for Nell, the first and only love:
And from your players...An Intergalactic Treasure:
I know everyone here has a story to tell you Coach, as do your players and everyone else that you touched. For me, the story involves a 9 year old kid who was living through a lot of uncertainty and turmoil. My mom and step-dad would bring me to UCLA to watch your games. I watched every game I could, at Pauley or on TV, and knowing that you would always win (well almost always) brought me incredible joy. I must say watching UCLA basketball was kind of my religion. My denim notebooks were always decorated with UCLA basketball stickers (I remember a favorite of Joe Bruin making a basket and all of the championship years going around it). I wore a powder blue sweat shirt with white U.C.L.A. on it almost every day. I knew every player, every coach, and smiled every time there was to be a game. You brought great joy to this young kid's life. And I can only imagine the thousands more of my generation that can say the same.
This child had her happiest childhood memory in 1968 when I got to attend the Final Four in the Sports Arena. My step-father had played a little for Houston so we got really good tickets right in the middle of their section. You all remember that year, how we should have won in Houston! So there we were, my mom and I, wearing our Bruin shirts, yelling, cheering, and probably dancing as Lewis, Mike, and Lucius, along with Shakleford and Lynn tore Houston apart.
Another important moment came for me just a year or two before you were reunited with Nell. I saw you eating a hot dog waiting to go into Pauley for a gymnastics meet. I wanted to go up to shake your hand but didn't want to bother you. I watched though as you seemed to take great joy in talking with just about everyone so I did approach. I thanked you for all the joy you and your teams had brought me and for all that I had learned from you about being a teacher. You shook my hand, introduced me to your daughter, and then began asking me about teaching. You were having difficulty standing up, but your smile and your mind were as bright as the brightest star in the sky. You genuinely seemed interested to get to know me and included me in your family. I am so grateful for that moment and for all the others.
Coach, I want to thank you again and wish you a wonderful birthday! I know you and Nell must be having a wonderful time together.
Anyone want to sign the card? Or you may want to write your own in a fanpost!
Happy Birthday Coach and Go Bruins! And to help you celebrate a tune from the Mills Brothers who's concert (according to wikipedia) you attended on the night you were wed.
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