Legendary former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden died of natural causes at UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center Friday at 6:45 p.m., the university announced. He was 99. He passed as students on campus were preparing to undertake a Friday night rally in his honor.
The man who led the university to ten NCAA championships in the 1960s and 1970s was admitted to the hospital as a result of dehydration, campus officials stated earlier Friday. He was reported to have been in “grave condition,” but the university stated he had been “resting comfortably” before his death. UCLA Chancellor Gene Block issued this statement in response to Wooden's passing:
“Coach Wooden's legacy transcends athletics; what he did was produce leaders. He was truly a legend in his own time, and he will be a legend for generations to come.”
Family members stated through UCLA that funeral services would be private but that at some point they would allow for a public memorial. “The Wizard of Westwood” was born in 1910 and his 100th birthday would have been Oct. 14. He already has at least one high school and one U.S. post office named in his honor, according to KCAL 9 News.
Wooden, a rare individual inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach, took UCLA to 10 championships in the years 1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1975.
He was known for his “pyramid of success” coaching style. Among the many big-name players he coached as students were Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton.
“It's kind of hard to talk about Coach Wooden simply, because he was a complex man,” Abdul-Jabbar told UCLA. “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.”
Sayings he repeated to his players included “never lie, never cheat, never steal,” “don't whine, don't complain, don't make excuses” and “make each day your masterpiece.”
“There will never be another John Wooden,” stated UCLA Director of Athletics Dan Guerrero. “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.”
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