John Wooden: 1910-2010

3-time All-American and a member of Purdue's 1932 National Championship, John Wooden got his start in West Lafayette. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

I didn't think I was going to be able to post anything for about a week, but when one of you University's most famous alumni passes, it is worth an article. When said alumni happens to be on the Mount Rushmore of the game of basketball, it is even more important. If that alumni is also a great human being that influenced the lives of thousands for the better and happens to be a personal hero of mine, well, I would say it is definitely worth breaking the silence.

The world lost John Wooden this evening.

Notice, I didn't say Purdue University, or the game of basketball, or UCLA where he won all of those National Titles. John Wooden was one of those rare people that knew his purpose in life was to give back to others in a positive way. And he did. His Pyramid of Success and Seven Point Creed were far more than tools for teaching the game of basketball. They are ways that we should live our lives. In my cynicism I see where so many people have lost this simple way of living, but Coach Wooden did something about it. He made sure that he told everyone he knew about these values:

  • Be true to yourself.
  • Make each day your masterpiece.
  • Help others.
  • Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.
  • Make friendship a fine art.
  • Build a shelter against a rainy day.
  • Pray for guidance and give thanks for your blessings every day.

These values were instilled in him by his father, Joshua, before he set foot on Purdue's campus. Because his father passed it to him, he made sure to pass it to others. That is the smallest thing we can do and the most important thing we can take from Coach Wooden's 99 years. He wanted to be known as a mentor first and a basketball coach second. He was an honest man who looked for the good in others and worked with them to realize their maximum potential.

I never met coach Wooden. I always wanted to because of his Purdue roots and his contributions to the game I love so much. I know I won't have that chance now, at least in this life, but I am proud that his legacy will continue on.

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