Forgotten Bears: UC Berkeley alumni we want to return for homecoming

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Ask students which notable UC Berkeley alumni they’d like to see return to campus for homecoming this weekend, and you’re likely to hear the same few names ad nauseam. 

All the computer science kids, with dreams of landing internships at Apple or Google, will tell you that they want Steve Wozniak. Fans of sports or perhaps casual sports-watchers who are fans of beautiful people will tell you they would like Alex Morgan, Aaron Rodgers, or DeSean Jackson (depending on their preferences). Lastly, UC Berkeley’s finest geeks and Trekkies alike demand a visit from George Takei, who originally portrayed Sulu in “Star Trek.”

Takei actually transferred to and finished his education at UCLA, but we won’t dwell on that. What we will dwell on is the plethora of forgotten UC Berkeley attendees who have waited too long for their day in the sun.

To start, who knew that Alex Honnold attended UC Berkeley? If that name doesn’t ring a bell, perhaps you heard about the man who scaled Yosemite’s El Capitan — a 3,000-foot tall, sheer rock face — without safety equipment. Maybe you heard about the documentary “Free Solo” that detailed his daring ascent. Yes, he went to UC Berkeley!

Why isn’t that a better-known fact? Maybe it has to do with the fact that Honnold only spent a year here. 

Reflecting on his college days, Honnold said in the Alpinist magazine in 2011, “College was heinous. … In my one year at Berkeley, I never met anybody. I never spoke to anybody. … I was sitting in an empty (apartment) by myself in my boxers all the time.”

Even though he left UC Berkeley, you should still read up on his accomplishments, both athletic and philanthropic. You might find yourself building an altar to him, and you’ll surely want him back on campus for homecoming.

Rob Hotchkiss, one of the founding members of the band Train, graduated from UC Berkeley. Train is probably best known for its inescapable hit “Hey, Soul Sister,” but Hotchkiss actually left the group before the song was released. For many readers, this may actually add to Hotchkiss’ credibility as a musician. Regardless, Hotchkiss earned a Grammy for his contributions to Train’s “Drops of Jupiter,” and he was an integral figure in the band’s development.

Basketball legend Jason Kidd attended UC Berkeley for the two years he spent in college before declaring for the NBA draft. Best known for his playing years with the Dallas Mavericks and the then-New Jersey Nets, Kidd was an NBA champion, 10-time All-Star and is widely regarded as one of the greatest point guards in league history.

As a coach, Kidd showed off his UC Berkeley-level intellect with one of the most tactical moves in basketball history. Without any more timeouts at his disposal and nearing the end of a close game in 2013, Kidd commanded one of his players to bump him. Upon receiving the arranged bump, Kidd spilled his soda onto the court, causing a delay and giving Kidd time to speak with his team. Go Bears!

Last but not least, this article would be remiss not to mention Brenda Song. The majority of her fans know her as London Tipton from “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.” For those who didn’t watch the Disney Channel, perhaps opting for higher-brow entertainment on Cartoon Network, she’s also Eduardo Saverin’s girlfriend in “The Social Network.” And, for those who haven’t kept up with pop culture since the ‘90s, she’s Macaulay Culkin’s girlfriend.

When discussing the notable figures who spent a portion of their learning days at UC Berkeley, the same few names are thrown around constantly. So we often forget alums such as Brenda Song and Rob Hotchkiss, or those who only had brief stints at UC Berkeley, such Alex Honnold and Jason Kidd. An actress whom many have fond memories of watching on Saturday mornings, a founding member of one of the biggest bands of the 2000s, the greatest climber in history, and an NBA great. … Who wouldn’t want them back for homecoming?

Contact Ethan Moutes at [email protected].