John Robert Wooden was born in Martinsville, Indiana, on October 14, 1910. While attending high school in Martinsville, he won All-State prep honors in basketball three times while leading them to the State title game in his sophomore, junior and senior seasons. In 1927, his high school team won the State title.
Next, he attended Purdue University and won varsity letters in both basketball and baseball. Wooden won All-America honors as a player for Purdue his sophomore, junior and senior seasons. In 1932, he led the Boilermakers to the NCAA College Basketball Title. Wooden has said that his greatest accomplishment at Purdue was making Purdue's academic honor roll and being awarded the Big Ten Conference medal for outstanding merit and proficiency in scholarship and athletics. During World War II, John Wooden served as a full lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. Upon his discharge in 1946 he went to Indiana Teachers College and became the athletic director, baseball coach, and basketball coach for two years before coming to UCLA. While coaching at Indiana Teachers College, he recorded a 47-14 record as the basketball coach.
In 1949, John Wooden became head coach of the basketball program. While at UCLA, Wooden continued to develop the unique teaching method he called the Pyramid of Success, which he used in coaching and in his life. He remained head coach of the Bruins until 1975, when he announced his retirement prior to the team's attempt to win a 10th national championship. The team came through in the title game of 1975 and Wooden finished his career with 10 NCAA Championships as a coach. During Wooden's 27 seasons at UCLA his record was an amazing 316-68.
Under Coach Wooden, the Bruins posted record after record. The team won 10 NCAA Championships, including seven in a row between 1966 and 1973. During this streak of seven straight championships, the Bruins won 38 straight NCAA Tournament games. Also, Coach Wooden led the Bruins during their 88-game winning streak that spanned over four seasons. Wooden's Bruins compiled four 30-0 seasons and captured 19 conference championships. At Pauley Pavilion under Wooden, the Bruins were near perfect, winning 149 out of 151 games.
A few of the many basketball-related awards and honors that Coach Wooden won include: member of the National Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach; member of the All-Time All-American Basketball Team; member of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame; six-time College Basketball Coach of the Year; 1970 Sporting News Sportsman of the Year; Friar's Club Coach of the Century; and 1973 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year.
While Wooden was proud of his accomplishments as a coach, he was prouder of what he had accomplished off the court. He said many times that he would rather be remembered as a great person than as a great basketball coach. Wooden was recognized by many organizations as an outstanding member of the community for his contributions and involvement.
John Wooden will always be remembered for the way he lived his life and his incredible success as a basketball coach.