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Wednesday, October 13, 2010
John Wooden's new generation

By Diamond Leung

John Wooden would have turned 100 years old on Thursday, and some of his family members are expected to join students on the UCLA campus to celebrate the late coach's birthday.

According to The Press-Enterprise, the family recently had another cause for celebration after Wooden's first great-great grandchild was welcomed into the world.

Wooden's great-granddaughter, Cori Andersen, gave birth to Charles Riley Andersen two months after the UCLA legend's passing. Andersen, a Riverside, Calif., kindergarten teacher, told the paper Wooden was pleased the child's middle name would be the maiden name of his late wife, Nell.
"I think if he could have, he would have liked to have met my son Charlie," Andersen said. "He would have done it if he could have. I told him, 'It's OK Papa. You don't have to meet Charlie here. You can meet him on your way to see mama (Nellie).

"I was upset. But I was upset for selfish reasons. He was unable to do things for himself -- which he absolutely hated. He wanted to see mama and that's what he needed to do. It would have been cool if he could still be here. But I know that he's better off."

Before he died, Wooden left the great-great grandson he never got to meet with a signed copy of his children's book, Inch and Miles: A Journey to Success. Inside the cover he wrote, "To Charlie, with love and best wishes. Great-great grandpa, John Wooden."

That's the Wooden people remember as well -- always loving, constantly teaching.

So perhaps it's fitting that UCLA students not yet born when Wooden was coaching went ahead and organized his 100th birthday party so that they could share his values with others.

Volunteers Thursday will visit two local schools to speak with children about Wooden's memory and his Pyramid of Success.

In the evening, a tribute video on the coach's life will be screened. UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero, coach Ben Howland and former player Keith Erickson will speak. Cake will be served.

A happy birthday indeed.