Jeff Eisenberg

Five memorable tributes to the legendary John Wooden

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Legendary former UCLA coach John Wooden was laid to rest Friday afternoon in Los Angeles. A public memorial for Wooden is scheduled for June 26 at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion, but here are five other memorable tributes for Wooden from the past week.

Elan Bigknife, president of UCLA's student cheering section known as The Den, came up with the idea to commemorate Wooden's life by selling blue silicone wristbands with the phrase "Coach John Wooden 10/14/1910 to 6/4/2010" written in yellow. The wristbands are $1 apiece, with all proceeds going to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation per the request of the Wooden family. Bigknife has already received orders for 3,500 wristbands even though they've been available for less than a week.

Wooden ate breakfast at Vip's restaurant in Tarzana almost every morning during the latter stages of his life, so the staff who had grown close to him honored him by making his favorite booth into a shrine after his death. A reserved sign sat on the table along with a vase of yellow roses and a framed photograph of the coach signed, "Best wishes, John Wooden, UCLA." Letters from well-wishers covered much of the table and a book of remembrances lay open so those who came to pay their respects could write in it if they chose.

The UCLA softball team has visited Wooden at his tiny Encino condominium each fall for decades, so players decided they wanted to do something to honor him after he died. As a result, the Bruins donned black wristbands with "J.W." embroidered on them last week during their run to a national title. "We are fortunate to have been very close to him and to be able to learn from him," UCLA coach Kelly Inouye-Perez told NCAA.com. "We take a great deal of pride in his words, his experience and his ability to do what he did."

As photographs from Wooden's career flashed on huge screens during Friday's commencement ceremony for UCLA's College of Letters and Science, 99 students carried blue-and-gold flags into Drake Stadium. The procession was in honor of Wooden, who died at age 99. "Carrying in this flag is the least of what we can do for Coach," graduating UCLA guard Mustafa Abdul-Hamid said. "It's our way of honoring someone who honored us with all that he did. He carried the whole weight of this university for many years."

The Bruin Bear in Ackerman Plaza is the most recognizable landmark on the UCLA campus, so it was a natural spot for students to erect a makeshift memorial for Wooden in the days after he died. The photo to the left taken by a poster on BruinsNation.com last Monday shows just a small sampling of the flowers, wreaths, photos, cards and signs left for Wooden beneath the statue. A wreath also hung last week from the metal railing next to Wooden's customary seat two rows behind the UCLA bench at Pauley Pavilion.

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