For my friend, John Wooden

“Make each day your masterpiece.”

-John Wooden

On June 4, 2010, the world lost a legend and I lost a friend. Basketball coach John Wooden passed away at 99 years of age.

John Wooden’s stories and quotes show up in a number of my books, for good reason. He was an amazing man. He coached basketball for over forty years. And in all those years, he had only one losing season (his first). He led his U.C.L.A. teams to four undefeated seasons and a record 10 NCAA championships, including seven in a row. Wooden was an amazing leader and coach, with a natural gift for words of encouragement and direction.

As a kid, I shared his love of basketball. As a young adult, I respected his amazing coaching success at UCLA. And more recently, I enjoyed the great privilege of being mentored by him. I already knew he was a great coach and leader, but by getting to know him personally, I learned that he was a great man.

So I’m sad to lose John Wooden. But at the same time I’m glad that he left such an amazing legacy – in people like me, in his former players, and in his books and teachings.

Just a few days after hearing the news, I was able to dedicate a sermon to him. Here is a link to the video:

Inside-Out Living, Christ Fellowship, 6/5/2010

The topic of my sermon was living from the inside out. No one that I know lived that way better than John Wooden did.

When Coach Wooden was ninety-two years old, I interviewed him in a conference, and one of the questions I asked was how he wanted to be remembered.  His response brought a gasp from the audience. “I certainly don’t want to be remembered for trophies and national championships,” he said without hesitation. After thinking a moment he said, “I hope people will remember me as one who was kind and considerate of others.”

I’m honored to have known John Wooden. His life was a masterpiece. I hope his legacy impacts you as it has me.

For more of John Wooden’s wisdom, check out his most recent book, A Game Plan for Life. I was honored to write the foreword.

“Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”

— John Wooden

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