John Wooden Dead at Age 99

Legendary UCLA Basketball John Wooden coach died of natural causes Friday night, June 4, 2010 at the age of 99.

John Wooden passed at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where he had been hospitalized since May 26.

John Wooden’s children James Wooden and Nancy Muehlhausen issued a statement on the passing of their father.

“We want to thank everyone for their love and support for our father. We will miss him more than words can express,” the statement read. “He has been, and always will be, the guiding light for our family. The love, guidance and support he has given us will never be forgotten.

“Our peace of mind at this time is knowing that he has gone to be with our mother, whom he has continued to love and cherish. We wish to express our gratitude for your support and appreciate your respecting our privacy.”

John Wooden was a legend for his historic coaching.

He led the UCLA Bruins to 10 NCAA championships. The Bruins also had an unmatched streak of seven in a row from 1967 to 1973 under Wooden.

Over Wooden’s career of 27 years, he won 620 games, including a historic 88 straight at one point. He coached many of basketball’s greatest players such as Bill Walton and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

“What you are as a person is far more important that what you are as a basketball player,” was one of Wooden’s key messages.

UCLA issued a statement Friday night saying, “There will never be another John Wooden,” UCLA director of athletics Dan Guerrero said. “While this is a huge loss for the Bruin family, Coach Wooden’s influence reaches far beyond Westwood. Coach was a tremendously significant figure. This loss will be felt by individuals from all parts of society. He was not only the greatest coach in the history of any sport but he was an exceptional individual that transcended the sporting world. His enduring legacy as a role model is one we should all strive to emulate. ”

Those that were coached by Wooden learned many great lessons from him. He had many memorable sayings such as “Learn as if you were to live forever; live as if you were to die tomorrow” and “Don’t give up on your dreams, or your dreams will give up on you.”

Wooden was asked what his secret was to living such a long life in an interview in 2008 and his response was: “Not being afraid of death and having peace within yourself. All of life is peaks and valleys. Don’t let the peaks get too high and the valleys too low.”

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