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.
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)