Pairing never-before-seen photos from Coach Wooden's private collection with his personal stories and affirmations, this book encompasses the dramatic arc of Wooden's larger-than-life achievements and experiences. As he did in his perpetual bestseller Wooden , Coach offers a wealth of biographical details, personal reflections, and a lifetime of lessons. His millions of fans will cherish this definitive pictorial history of a living sports legend. Steve Jamison is America's foremost author and authority on the life and philosophy of John Wooden.
John Wooden , Steve Jamison.
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Principal Earl Warriner. Coach Glenn Curtis. The Beginning of the Beginning. Understanding People. Nevertheless, he was responsible for the good things that happened to me as a coach. Therefore, it surprises people that I received hardly any basketball instruction from Dad--no tips on jump shots, free throws, or anything else. He seldom attended games and was only slightly interested in results.
Books by John Wooden
His concern and guidance were deeper. In those early days, Dad's message about basketball--and life--was this: "Johnny, don't try to be better than somebody else, but never cease trying to be the best you can be. You have control over that. The other you don't. His advice was easier said than done, but very good advice.
Then he would usually add, as he talked to us at the kitchen table, "Boys, always try to learn from others, because you'll never know a thing that you didn't learn from somebody else--even if it's what not to do. Make the effort. Do your best," I'd tell them. Some have suggested that one of the reasons UCLA often outscored opponents was that I never stressed outscoring opponents--that is, "beating" someone else or "needing" to win a game. I don't know if that's true or not.
Try your hardest, make the effort, do your best. That's what I stressed, and it came from Dad. Do your best. Today, almost a century after he first taught that lesson to me, I believe his advice is still good as gold.
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I learned so much from my father, but that may be his strongest lesson. It's hard to say. Roxie Anna Wooden, my mother, lost her two young daughters--my sisters--early on. Diphtheria killed Cordelia before her third birthday. My youngest sister died before she even had a name. They were buried in the Centerton cemetery not far from our farm. Today my parents lie next to them. I doubt if Mother ever really recovered from the deaths of her two little girls.
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Perhaps she survived because farm life offered no time for self-pity. Maybe she survived because of her strength and her religion. Like my father, Mother placed her faith in the Good Lord, and they taught us to do the same. The food we ate we grew. Dad had about thirty hogs, four or five milk cows, lots of chickens, and some mules for field work--no tractor for plowing, no automobile for driving. Mother's garden was next to our farmhouse and was bigger than the house.
Peas, carrots, tomatoes, squash, beans, celery, radishes, and strawberries were grown, eaten, or canned and stored down in the fruit cellar. She even canned beef and pork. Chicken was the only fresh meat we ate year-round, and Mother cooked it a hundred different ways. I liked it every way she made it, especially roast chicken. In fact, I still like roast chicken. Occasionally Dad would shoot squirrel, rabbit, or quail, which certainly added a little variety to our kitchen table. Mother baked our bread and Dad churned our butter.
When the bread was hot out of the stove, we'd spread the butter on thick and cover it with homemade strawberry jam, or blackberry or raspberry. I loved the heels of the loaf, still warm and soft with plenty of sweet fresh butter.
I still love the heels, even if the bread is from a store. And I miss Mother's persimmon pudding, peach cobblers, and homemade ice cream. She sewed most of our clothing. In fact, I don't remember her ever buying a new dress for herself.
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Only on rare occasion did she purchase new shoes. When she did, they had to last her a long time and so did ours. Joshua Hugh and Roxie Anna Wooden's lives were hard, but for my brothers and me, growing up on that little farm in Centerton was almost perfect.
The end came suddenly. Bad feed killed the hogs, drought stunted the crops, and the bank took the farm. In those days there was no insurance for this kind of trouble, so we lost everything.
Those were very hard times for our family, and the Great Depression hadn't even begun. Through it all, Dad never winced. He laid no blame on the merchant who had sold him the feed, didn't curse the weather, and had no hatred toward the banker. My father had done his best, but things went bad.
He was a living model of his own "two sets of threes"--brief instructions that he felt were basic to decent behavior. My brothers and I heard his two sets of threes often while we were growing up--not as often as we ate oatmeal, but enough that we remembered them: "Never lie. Never cheat. Never steal," was his first set.
My Personal Best: Life Lessons from an All-American Journey
Don't make excuses," was the second set. He believed you should do your best, and if the results were unsatisfactory, keep quiet about it and work harder next time. Never lie. Never steal.