John Wooden, the poet laureate of reason, kindness and decency

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"And soon they'll know the privilege given

"In caring for this gift from Heaven.

"Their previous charge, so meek and mild,

"Is Heaven's very special child."


I am finished now. we have spent hours together, him talking and me taping. I have no more questions, no more tape, no more pretense to stay here and soak up more of the gospel of life according to John Wooden.

My real world awaits my return. There are hockey players with fire extinguishers and basketball coaches with chairs to throw. I have just spent some of the best hours of my life with a man of little means and so much left to give, and I return to reporting on millionaires with so much left to take.

And so we leave his condo.

On Oct. 14, 2000, he will be 90 years old. Yet he walks me out, shuffling alongside and making sure the gate is open and that I can find my way comfortably. My comfort is his.

As I drive away, I remember something he told me weeks ago, a quote from Mother Teresa that he found meaningful: "A life not lived for others is not a life."

And I find myself wondering if there really is another one like him out there, or if this really is as good as it gets.
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