I miss Ray Charles.
I remember growing up and hearing stories of the 1958 performance of The Great Ray Charles on the campus of Penn State. My father often recollected about that transformative evening as he watched the legendary artist, absent of sight yet profoundly full of vision.
Over the years, I began to pay closer attention to the Ray Charles lyrics and grew to love the man. And for reasons that are difficult to describe, when Ray Charles passed in 2004, I was deeply saddened and have missed him ever since.
Now, I miss John Wooden.
It is rare to meet people who actually “get it.” And by “it’, I mean life. As a sports fan, I have always admired John Wooden’s success as a basketball coach. How can you overlook 10 National Championships, including seven in a row and four undefeated seasons? If you dig deeper, you learn that John Wooden also achieved the highest level of success as a player:
-Led his High School Team to the State Championship finals three years in a row
-Led Purdue to the 1932 National Championship
-Inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a player in 1961.
But this is not why I will forever miss John Wooden.
If you have a free moment, Google “John Wooden Quotes,” and then sit down and get ready to be awed.
How could one man have such depth? I never met the man, but I believe I became a better person just by reading his words.
“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”
“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”
“Consider the rights of others before your own feelings, and the feelings of others before your own rights.”
And probably my personal favorite: “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”
Are these the words of a basketball coach or a modern-day prophet?
I will miss John Wooden and I have never met the man. But I can promise you this, I am a better person because I read his words and heard his lessons. People like John Wooden don’t come around that often, so we need to embrace them.