opens IMAGE file As a pupil of Coach John Wooden I am thrilled to be able to celebrate his 99th Birthday. It was so long ago, 1965, that I met him that it seems that he has been part of my life forever. Forty-four years is a good deal of time any way you cut it. In those years what I have learned from him has helped make my life significant and meaningful. If I just consider the success I enjoyed as a basketball player at UCLA I could stop there. But there is so much more. Coach Wooden wanted his players to learn life skills in addition to hoop skills and he used basketball to teach them. His major concern was that we got to graduate from UCLA and have the knowledge, skills and discipline to be good husbands, parents and citizens. I feel that any success I have enjoyed as a parent was informed by what I learned as a student of Coach Wooden’s. His ability to challenge us without crushing our precious adolescent dreams was masterful and I really benefited from those lessons. He let us try it our way and then he showed us the correct way. The results are there for all to see. All of the success on the basketball courts was secondary to these goals. The best time I shared with Coach were those moments on road trips when we would have quiet time to talk about whatever was on our minds. Coach would share some of his favorite poems with me and I would talk to him about some of my favorite books. As a former English teacher he was very aware of many of my favorite authors. His taste in poetry included; Shakespeare, Robert Frost, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and, much to my surprise, Langston Hughes! I’m a big fan of crime stories and enjoyed talking with Coach about Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, John Le Caree and Arthur Conan Doyle. The most important results of our conversations were that he let me know that I should realize my potential as a student and athlete. He felt that approach would be the best for me in the long run. Of course, he was right on the money with that guidance and I have never felt uncomfortable being a scholar in addition to being an athlete. The graduation rate of athletes who played for Coach Wooden is over 65%. You will not find a more successful accomplishment for any NCAA coach who has ran a program as long as Coach Wooden did. It is his most cherished achievement and he feels that his “boys” are the jewels in his crown. I am very proud to be one of his ‘boys’ and I want to wish him and his family thanks and congratulations for what they have accomplished and what they have meant to my life. Happy Birthday Coach. May Allah bless you and yours.