Walt Hazzard, former UCLA Bruins and NBA basketball star, died yesterday at the age of 69. After his playing career ended he was a successful coach. However he never achieved the status of the legendary John Wooden for whom he had played. http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-me-walt-hazzard-20111119,0,7345670.story?track=rss Hazzard helped Wooden lead the team to his first NCAA championship. In his 4 years of coaching, Hazzard brought the Bruins their first National Invitational Tournament championship. But that wasn’t considered good enough.
I first heard about Hazzard when my uncle played basketball against me using the name of the star player. My uncle was one of the role models for my older sister and me. I sometimes resented his closeness with him. In recent years my uncle left our hometown of Buffalo and built a wonderful home outside Atlanta. He has also become a role model for others, speaking at recovery meetings. When I learned that fact about about my uncle it made him more human. He was someone who had admitted his faults.
Hazzard struggled, too. He played in the NBA before the big contracts that players have today. His career included playing in Buffalo before that team left town. The article I read about his life talked about how he lived almost 20 years after suffering a stroke. He was married, raised a family and was a devout Muslim. Indeed, he did a lot with his life.
So I am glad I heard about Walt Hazzard who number 42 was retired by UCLA. He aspired to and achieved greatness. Walt Hazzard, presente.