Nan Wooden, daughter of UCLA coaching legend John Wooden, dies at 87


Nan Wooden, left, enjoys a light moment with friend Mary Lou Smith at the unveiling of a statue of her father, John Wooden, outside Pauley Pavilion on the UCLA campus in October 2012. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Long after her father coached for the final time inside the old building, Nan Wooden continued attending UCLA basketball games at Pauley Pavilion.

She loved the Bruins every bit as much as her legendary father, who guided the program to a record 10 national championships. After John Wooden died in 2010, Nan would often occupy his favorite spot behind the team bench in Section 103B, Row 2, Seat 1.

Nan was there when Tyler Trapani, her grandson and a walk-on who had never scored a point in three seasons, grabbed an airball and banked it through the net in February 2011 during the final seconds of a game against Arizona. It was the last basket scored at Pauley Pavilion before it was closed for a $136-million renovation.

“Watching this was one of the greatest moments of my life,” Nan said after the game. “Knowing the connection between Tyler and his great-grandfather made this perfect.”

One of UCLA basketball’s leading ambassadors before declining health kept her home in recent years, Nancy Anne (Nan) Wooden died early Tuesday morning from natural causes, the school announced. She was 87.

Before a series of strokes confined her to a San Fernando Valley care center, Nan had represented her family whenever she could at awards ceremonies, luncheons and games.

Born in Kentucky in 1934 and raised in Indiana, Nan moved with her family to Southern California when her father accepted the UCLA job before the 1948-49 season. John Wooden’s Bruins went 149-2 in Pauley Pavilion before his retirement following the 1974-75 season, when his team won the national title with a victory over Kentucky in San Diego.

One of John Wooden’s two children, Nan is survived by her younger brother, James (Jim) Wooden; her three daughters, Cathleen Trapani, Christy Impelman and Caryn Bernstein; six grandchildren, Tyler and Cameron Trapani, John and Kyle Impelman, Cori Andersen, and Eric Bernstein; and four great-grandchildren, Charles and Audrey Andersen, Emi and Carter Impelman, with Joshua Robert Bernstein expected in November.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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