Former UCLA coach John Wooden dies at 99

LOS ANGELES According to UCLA, /*John Wooden*/ passed away at 6:45 p.m. Friday at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. He had been admitted to the hospital on May 26 for dehydration.

Funeral services will be private. A public memorial for the legendary coach will be announced at a later date.

Wooden is considered one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time, building a dynasty at UCLA with 10 national championships. Seven of those were consecutive, between 1967 and 1973.

At one point, the /*Bruins*/ had an 88-consecutive-game winning streak.

On Thursday, word about Wooden's hospitalization spread immediately on the Internet and at the /*Staples Center*/, where the Lakers and the Celtics were playing Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

"We all appreciated his teaching and his mentoring of his college students," said Lakers coach /*Phil Jackson*/. "His coaching has been an inspiration to all of us coaches."

Lakers player Jordan Farmar, who was a UCLA point guard from 2004 to 2006, said Wooden was a big figure in his life.

"(He's) a big reason why you go to UCLA in the first place and wear that jersey and play for a the school he helped build so much tradition," Farmar said.

Wooden began his career at UCLA in 1948 and won 620 games before retiring in 1975.

On his website, there are a number of photographs chronicling his extraordinary life and career, including his own playing days at Purdue University.

For many years, Wooden has been a regular at Vip's Family Restaurant in Tarzana. He calls it his favorite coffee shop.

"The coach gave me his book. He's not only the coach for basketball. He's coach for life. I really learned a lot from him," said Paul Ma, owner of Vip's Restaurant.

In recent years, Wooden has dealt with a number of health issues. There are reports that he was briefly hospitalized about a month ago.

After retiring from coaching, Wooden had more success as an author and speaker, and he remains highly respected by UCLA students.

"He's the best basketball coach of all time," said Edwin Gonzalez, a UCLA student. "His teachings can be applied to life."

The following statement was issued by Nan and Jim Wooden on the passing of their father, John Wooden:

We want to thank everyone for their love and support for our father. We will miss him more than words can express. He has been, and always will be, the guiding light for our family. The love, guidance and support he has given us will never be forgotten.

Our peace of mind at this time is knowing that he has gone to be with our mother, whom he has continued to love and cherish.

We wish to express our gratitude for your support and appreciate your respecting our privacy.

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