When you meet a legend, you don’t expect him to answer the door.

When you meet John Wooden, he’ll apologize for not having answered the door quicker.

When you meet a legend, you don’t expect to be greeted like a truly important person.

When you meet John Wooden, you discover he’s as interested in you as you are in him.

When you meet a legend, you don’t expect to find he lives in a small, unpretentious town house in the “Valley.”

When you meet John Wooden, you discover his home feels like your home, warm and comfortable.

Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden

I only met John Wooden once, but it was one of the greatest hours in my life. I arrived to shoot a portrait of the legendary UCLA basketball coach at his home and left with the feeling that I had just learned more from listening and conversing with Mr. Wooden than at any other time in my life. His demeanor, speaking tone, genuineness and strong opinions on etiquette, sportsmanship and civility were embedded in me during that assignment.

Now, as I reflect on a man I pray will live for 20 more years (he’s 99), I am reminded of the book “The Five People You Meet in Heaven.” The novel spins a tale about how one person can impact another person so deeply, even in a passing moment, that you will meet them again in heaven. I can assure you that Mr. Wooden would not remember our hour together years ago, but I can assure him that he will be one of the five people I meet in heaven.

That’s the impact that John Wooden, small in stature but enormous in life, had on me.

NOTE: Moments after posting this Mr Wooden passed away. His life was lived in full and may he find the eternal happiness he so deserves)

Todd Bigelow Photography
0 comments on “One Hour with John Wooden
  1. Hi Todd,
    I don’t know if you remember me from the school paper at CSUN and the Simi Valley paper, but I came across your Website and it’s terrific. The praise you paid John Wooden is so beautifully stated. You’re as great with words as you are with the camera. I hope all is going well in your life.
    I’m still in the newspaper business, as a staff writer for the Antelope Valley Press in Palmdale. Well, take care.
    Alisha

  2. I forgot to check the boxes below in my last communication.

  3. Yep, still in the business. I just got back from an investigative reporters’ conference in Vegas. It was great. I met and spoke with Valerie Plame Wilson, the former CIA agent whose identity was leaked to the media. She wrote a book. I’m not generally one to collect autographs, but I have a signed copy.
    Your Website looks great. I’m impressed.
    Chris Parker is married with two kids.
    Bret Hansard is married with two kids.
    Ken Nunez is married with one kid.
    And, Lori Zubalik is married with two kids.
    I have Chris and Lori on FaceBook, where I go by the name Ali Semchuck.
    I hope all is well with you. Take care.
    Alisha

    I guess everyone is growing up.

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