Cailend Robbins is a legacy, in more ways than one. Her father graduated from FIDM with a Fashion Design degree in 1987, and now works for Asics. Her great grandfather was famed UCLA Basketball Coach John Wooden who led his teams to win 10 national championships in a 12-season stretch. From 1971 to 1974, UCLA won 88 consecutive games, still the NCAA record. We sat down with Cailend to find out a little bit more about what it was like growing up in her household.
Tell us what it's like being the great granddaughter of famed UCLA Basketball Coach John Wooden: I love hearing stories and how much he inspired people. I've often been asked what it's like being John Wooden’s great granddaughter, and I always find it a funny question because to me he was just my Papa. But as I got older I realized that everything I considered normal was in all just a blessing to be around and be part of. He was so kind, gentle, inspirational, stubborn, and extremely hilarious. I loved that during every halftime at the UCLA basketball games, he would grab me and my cousin, Lacey Wooden, and have us sit on his lap while he would sign autographs on our laps.
Growing up with his players and my family was an unreal experience. There were always a lot of laughs but most importantly an extreme amount of love, as you can tell just from the pure love my great grandfather had for his wife, Mama (who my middle name is named after). I grew up in a family based around being kind, strong, loving, hard working, and truthful.
My great grandpa loved Mother Teresa. One of her quotes that he liked to recite that stuck with me is, “A life not lived for others is not a life.” There is not a more rewarding feeling then putting a smile on someone else’s face. He quoted to us grandkids a lot from the Bible, as well as from Abraham Lincoln. Although I did take in all his quotes that he would recite, I just loved to hear him speak in general. What a lot of people don’t know about him is how hilarious he was. He definitely passed that gene down to my grandpa (his son) James Wooden. Having been a part of my great grandpa’s life was just as incredible as being part of my grandpa’s life. In my eyes there is no greater man then my grandpa and I hope one day I find a husband as amazing as him.
Personally, my favorite quote of my great grandpa’s is, “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.” He used to tell me that a lot during hard times, and it is 100% true. I was taught when something doesn’t go your way, accept it, move on, and ask yourself how you can move forward. I actually got denied from UCLA twice and after the second time, I realized it was just not meant to be. I figured my Papa was up in heaven trying to lead me in the right direction. I don’t think my acceptance into FIDM was luck; I think it was fate. Life throws some crazy curveballs, but it’s how we deal with them that defines who we are.
The day my great grandpa passed away was an emotional one. Not just emotionally sad, but happy as well. The last time I got to speak to him while he was coherent, I kissed him, told him I loved him, squeezed his hand, and said to him, “Tell Mama hi for me and that I love her.” He couldn’t respond verbally, but I will never forget the smile in his eyes and the way he squeezed my hand back. He was so ready, and was not afraid to die—truly inspirational. He missed my great grandma so much, he deserved to be reunited with her.
After he passed, my family held hands around him in a circle and bowed our heads to pray. The amount of love I felt in that moment I will never be able to fully describe in words. Family is all I know and love. It's something I am blessed to have. I would not have it any other way.