John Wooden celebrates 99th birthday

Updated: October 14, 2009, 8:02 PM ET
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- John Wooden celebrated his 99th birthday Wednesday.

The former UCLA coach and Hall of Famer is confined to a wheelchair after a series of minor health setbacks in recent years.

One of Wooden's last public appearances came in July when he gathered with current Bruins coach Ben Howland and several of his former players at a luncheon celebrating Wooden's recognition by a national magazine as the greatest coach in American sports history.

Wooden, whose wife Nell died in 1985, is looked after by his daughter, son, several grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

"The most important thing in the world is family and love," he said in July.

Wooden won a record 10 national championships at UCLA, including seven in a row. The Indiana native was inducted in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player in 1960 and as a coach in 1973. He has kept busy as a speaker and author since his retirement from UCLA in 1975.

A web site set up to mark Wooden's birthday attracted well wishes from 4,926 people by Wednesday afternoon. It coincided with the release of his latest book, "A Game Plan for Life: The Power of Mentoring."


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press