Ogden's fitness paid off during one trip to a track meet, recalled John Godina, another UCLA shot putter.

"All of the throwers were squeezed into a van that was going about 5 mph in heavy traffic," Godina said. "We had stopped earlier for burritos, and soon it was obvious that someone had gotten a bad one."

In a flash, Ogden bolted from the moving vehicle. And there he stayed, keeping pace with the van, until the air cleared.

"I had to run for a couple of minutes," he said.

Playful nature

College teammates said Ogden could also be childish - in a playful sense. Imagine his joy when, during a track meet at Notre Dame, a snowstorm blanketed the campus.

"He initiated a snowball fight with all of these California kids who'd never seen the white stuff before," Godina said. "It was so funny seeing this big doofus running around like a little kid, throwing snow down people's backs."

Another time, after a meet in Wyoming, the Bruins stopped at a dude ranch to ride horses.

"When the wranglers saw Ogden, they freaked out," Venegas said. "They finally gave him the biggest horse they had - a nasty Budweiser-type Clydesdale."

Still, the animal struggled under Ogden's girth.

"I have a picture of him trying to get up a hill on that horse," Alt- house said. "That animal is struggling. Big J.O. couldn't afford to lean back."

As a Raven, Ogden may be older and richer, but the quirkiness remains.

"He's still a walking anecdote," said Flynn, his teammate.

For instance:

Ogden has yet to style his towering Afro.

"He leads the league in not combing his hair," said Orlando Brown, a former Raven. "Before away games, I used to tell J.O., 'Man, do you know how many people you're scaring, getting on the plane with hair like that?' "

He's hardly graceful on the dance floor.

"He looks like a big, wobbly grizzly bear," Williams said.

Nowadays, Ogden rarely boogies.

"I can definitely cut a rug," he said. "I just choose not to."