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Reactions To Coach Wooden's Passing

Throughout Friday evening, people from all walks of life, inside the world of sports as well as without, have been sharing their thoughts on the passing of Coach Wooden. Whether in statements made through UCLA, to various media outlets, and eve non twitter, Coach touched the lives of a great number of people. Here are a few of the thoughts and statements that have been made tonight:

UCLA has issued a release on Coach Wooden's death which includes statements by several members of the Bruin family.

Dan Guerrero

"There will never be another John Wooden. While this is a huge loss for the Bruin Family, Coach Wooden's influence reaches far beyond Westwood. Coach was a tremendously significant figure and this loss will be felt by individuals from all parts of society," said UCLA Director of Athletics Dan Guerrero. "He was not only the greatest coach in the history of any sport, but he was an exceptional individual that transcended the sporting world and his enduring legacy as a role model is one we should all strive to emulate.

"... He is without a doubt one of the most historic figures of the last century and has left an indelible mark on our world. He is, as Bill Walton once said, a National Treasure, and he will be remembered as such forever."

Ben Howland

"Coach Wooden's timeless teachings, philosophies and "Pyramid of Success" not only influenced the lives of his players, but the lives of millions of people around the world. Friendship, loyalty, team spirit and competitive greatness are not just building blocks in his "Pyramid of Success," it's how Coach Wooden led his own life and taught others to live. Always the teacher and mentor, throughout his life Coach Wooden was so giving of himself and his time to everyone.

"Coach Wooden was a wonderful person and great friend who is truly a national treasure. His legacy and legend will continue to live on in each of us striving to be the "best that we are capable of becoming" as athletes, coaches, teachers, parents and human beings."

Several of Coach Wooden's players also released statements through UCLA this evening.

Andy Hill

"John Wooden was a great coach, but he was an even better person. He taught us how to learn...and then he taught us how to teach and lead others. He taught us to work together and compete...and then he taught us how to be humble in victory. He taught us that our family and friends were our greatest gift...and then his life showed us how to make that dream come true. Though my heart aches at the thought of his absence, he will never leave us...because his teachings are timeless and his lessons priceless."

Andre McCarter

"My Coach, John Robert Wooden, the example of a man who lived really loving the Lord. What an honor, with love for me to have shared with him, moments in time. My friend, my Coach who taught me the intricate details of a champion and helped shape my life. He trusted me with the basketball and he trusted me to live the best life.The King of kings has welcomed the Coach of coaches."

Lynn Shackleford

"Little did I know when I started playing basketball under John Wooden that I would be receiving not just the best in basketball instruction, but in addition a path to an honest and honorable way to live for a lifetime."

Jamaal Wilkes

"Over the years our coach-player relationship grew into a life mentoring relationship, and then into a friendship. Coach was always there during the up and down times for me and my family, especially the down times. He had a knack for saying what I needed to hear at the right time about anything. Coach would say things that stuck with me and I'd think about. Coach was fun and had a great sense of humor.

"Coach Wooden is now teaching basketball and life fundamentals in a much bigger Pavilion. Dr, Naismith may have invented the game of basketball but Coach Wooden will coach the team when they meet in Heaven. He's still in charge of practice, asking you be the best you can be on and off the court, and winning championships, eternally.

"I love him, my family loves him, we'll miss him dearly, and we'll always be grateful he cared and touched our lives."

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar also made a statement after Coach passed on.

"It's kind of hard to talk about Coach Wooden simply, because he was a complex man. But he taught in a very simple way. He just used sports as a means to teach us how to apply ourselves to any situation. He set quite an example. He was more like a parent than a coach. He really was a very selfless and giving human being, but he was a disciplinarian. We learned all about those aspects of life that most kids want to skip over. He wouldn't let us do that."

Fellow collegiate coaches share their thoughts on Coach Wooden, and his passing from this earth.

"My reaction is sadness yet at this point we have to celebrate maybe the most important guy in the history of the game. There has been no greater influence on college basketball not just about the game but the team. He's greatest coach in college basketball if not all basketball from the standpoint of all of us trying to emulate what he's done. He gave so much to basketball and education. In my opinion if he's not as important as Dr. Naismith, he's right next to him." Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun

"Today, we've lost a giant in all of sport with the passing of Coach Wooden. Quite likely, his accomplishments as a college basketball coach will never be matched. Neither will the impact he had on his players or the greater basketball community. Many have called Coach Wooden the 'gold standard' of coaches. I believe he was the 'gold standard' of people and carried himself with uncommon grace, dignity and humility. Coach Wooden's name is synonymous with excellence, and deservedly so. He was one of the great leaders - in any profession - of his generation. We are blessed that the sport of basketball benefitted from his talents for so long. Coach Wooden and his wisdom will be sorely missed." Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski

"When I think of a basketball coach the only one I ever thought of was Coach Wooden. He had a great life and helped so many coaches until well in his 90s. Every time I talked to him he would give me some words of advice. He's the best of all time. There will never be another like him and you can't say that about too many people. It's a sad day but he had such an unbelievable run. I can't tell you what he's done for game of basketball and it's not just the wins. It's the attitude and the way he carried himself. I just can't say enough about him." Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim

"I am very saddened at the passing of John Wooden. In my lifetime, I was fortunate to call him a friend. As a coach, I always admired his gentle demand for nothing but excellence and his student-athletes delivered. He created role models on and off the court, and because of him, it is something I instilled in my players from my first day as a very young coach. The takeaways we all have been blessed with from knowing John Wooden are numerous. For all of his successes, he was such a humble man. Tonight, we have lost a true American icon." Tennessee women's coach Pat Summitt

Vin Scully, informing his viewers of John Wooden's death during Friday night's Dodger game

Jim Harrick talked to John Gold about his feelings upon hearing of Coach Wooden's passing

"He was my mentor, and he's a guy I learned so much basketball from. He's really responsible for everything I've ever done. It's a sad day, even though we knew it was coming. He meant so much to everybody. Probably the greatest thing I could say is he had the least ego of anyone I ever knew. Never let anything he accomplished get in the way he felt. He was a superb man. Boy I tell you, we all looked up to him." ...

"I've followed him for a long time. I saw him at Christmas for a long time. Spent a long time with him just talking. My wife passed away in November, his wife had passed long ago, and he sat with me for so long. He really grabbed me close and held me, told me, 'I know how you feel.' We talked for a long, long time..."

Earl Watson described to the Indy Star the role that John Wooden played in his becoming a Bruin, and in his life.

"You go to UCLA because of coach Wooden," Watson said by phone from Los Angeles late Friday night. "You think of UCLA, you think of coach Wooden. You knew you were representing UCLA, but you also knew you were representing coach Wooden and everything he built."

"Everything he has done for basketball, his creativity with the game, his pioneering with the game, to me it was a chance to be part of something so spectacular and historical," Watson said. "It was almost like you had a chance to meet somebody like JFK or Martin Luther King. That's who coach Wooden will always be to me."

Former Duke University player and 2002 Wooden Award honoree Jason Williams had this to say about the loss of Coach.

"Today is a very sad day. For me personally, in my entire life, when I've thought about college basketball, the name that comes to the first of your list is John Wooden. That's the only name that can be associated with being the best in the elite of their league in college basketball. For what he was able to accomplish, for some of the people he coached -- who he not only turned into great basketball players, but into greater people -- says enough about John Wooden's legacy."

Dick Vitale wrote a piece for with his reaction to learning of Coach Wooden's death

I was saddened to learn of the passing of Hall of Fame coach John Wooden on Friday night.

When you talk about the definition of the word "class," you could go to Webster's Dictionary and there should be a picture of Coach Wooden right there. He handled himself with such dignity, the way he treated people.


... Our paths crossed when I was at the University of Detroit, coaching against Michigan in the NCAA tournament. I was so thrilled to see the announcers prior to that game -- Hall of Famers Curt Gowdy and Coach Wooden. I explained to my team what these two men meant to their professions. It was an incredible experience in my life.


I have been fortunate to receive a number of awards in my lifetime, truly blessed indeed. I will never forget the thrill when I received the John Wooden Pyramid of Success award.

Let me share with you a story about Wooden and his impact on people. As a high school coach, I wrote to a number of people to try to learn their concepts and philosophies. The day I received a letter from Wooden, with the pyramid of success, I couldn't wait to share it with my high school team.

The Associated Press obtained reactions from several other notable figures, including the following.

"Coach Wooden was more than a Hall of Fame basketball player and coach; he was an incredible man whose dedication and leadership on the court inspired generations of Californians. He meant so much to Los Angeles, California and the entire basketball community around the world. Maria and I extend our thoughts and prayers to his loved ones as they remember the extraordinary life of this coaching legend." Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

"You need not be a sports fan to mourn the passing of John Wooden. Coach Wooden took the self-sacrifice and teamwork required to be successful in basketball and modeled them into a paradigm for life. Through basketball, he taught generations of players and fans the values of love, friendship, responsibility and humility. `Make friendship a true art' and `Give thanks for your blessings and ask for guidance every day' were among his favorite maxims. I give thanks to God for the life and wisdom of John Wooden. May his soul, and all the souls of the faithful departed, rest in peace." Cardinal Roger Mahony

"All of us at Purdue, past and present, are immensely saddened by the death of John Wooden, and we send our deepest regrets to his loved ones and friends. Coach Wooden has been a member of the Purdue family since he studied and played here 80 years ago. He lived a life of true leadership, steady and amazing excellence, and unfailing kindness to others. There was no one like Coach Wooden. He leaves a lasting imprint."  France A. Cordova, President of Purdue University (Coach Wooden's Alma Mater)

Even people that you would likely never associate with Basketball, Coach Wooden or UCLA have shared their feelings of Coach. People such as motivational speaker Tony Robbins (via twitter)

Coach Wooden 99yrs old passed away today he won 10 NCAA championships but also 1 of best human being I ever knew. He touched so many lives

Far more people than just Tony have been using Twitter to talk about Coach. Rick Fox tweeted this upon hearing the news.

40 minutes of silence for not only a great basketball coach a great LIFE COACH! we all wish we could have played for you. RIP Coach Wooden.

Dueling football coaches have also been using this service to honor Coach. Rick Neuheisal posted the following earlier tonight

Coach Wooden will forever live in the hearts and minds of all who were touched by him. What a truly wonderful man. Coach, you will be missed

While under normal circumstances I would not be using this individual's thoughts for much of anything, these are not normal circumstances. Pete Carroll was saddened by Coach Wooden's passing.

So saddened about Coach Wooden's passing, but so thankful for the impact he had on me & countless others. Thank you, Coach

Even Alyssa Milano felt moved to make a post with the message:

Rest in peace, John Wooden.


Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful. ~John Wooden #Quote

Over the 99 years that he graced the earth, John Wooden touched the lives of an immeasurable number of people.