Imagine writing 300 love letters that remained unopened. 300! What kind of person would do such a thing? An incredibly devoted husband and widower, that’s who. A man who once said: “passion is momentary; love is enduring.”
Those letters were written each month as an expression of the enduring love of the late, great John Wooden. After visiting his wife Nellie’s grave on the monthly anniversary of her death, Wooden would write her a letter and leave it on the pillow on “her side” of the bed. The letters would conclude with Wooden telling his bride that he missed her every day and that he couldn’t wait to be with her again. Wooden poured out his love that way, month after month, for 25 years until shortly before his death at the age of 99. He left stacks and stacks of letters tied up with yellow ribbons on her pillow.
As the Men’s Basketball Coach at UCLA, Wooden led the team to win 10 NCAA Championships in 12 years, with 7 being in consecutive years. The team had four perfect 38-0 seasons and still holds the longest unbroken winning streak at 88 games. Truly astounding!
Yes, John Wooden’s accomplishments as a coach were legendary. But his century-long track record as a humble and faithful man is equally remarkable.
Wooden was known for living by his “Seven Point Creed,” given to him by his own father upon graduation from grammar school:
1. Be true to yourself. 2. Make each day your masterpiece. 3. Help others. 4. Drink deeply from good books, especially The Bible. 5. Make friendship a fine art. 6. Build a shelter against a rainy day. 7. Pray for guidance and give thanks for your blessings every day. 8. Living by this simple creed would serve us all well. It’s been 10 years since John Wooden won the ultimate “championship” and was promoted to Heaven. As the years pass and memories of his victorious life fade, I hope you’ll take a brief time out and learn from his well-lived life.
Here’s a short ESPN video about those love letters that was made while Coach Wooden was alive. His devotion (and the twinkle in his eyes) is heartwarming.
Please don’t wait to write letters to those you love. Most of us won’t live to 99 as Coach Wooden did. But we can choose, today and every day, to cherish those we love, to live intentional, encouraging lives and to leave nothing unsaid.