Randy Pausch highlights a number of people who were important in various ways at different points in his life during The Last Lecture. Three of the most significant individuals could be considered:
1. his college football coach, Jim Graham. Graham helped Pausch realize that he would never play in the NFL. More importantly, Graham taught him the importance of mastering the basics, knowing the fundamental foundations of whatever you're doing. Graham also helped Pausch learn how to accept constructive criticism
when you see yourself doing something badly and nobody’s bothering to tell you anymore, that’s a very bad place to be. Your critics are your ones telling you they still love you and care.
2. Captain Kirk of Starship Enterprise, also known as William Shatner. Pausch learned the importance of leadership by analyzing Kirk's role in the Star Trek series, and Pausch's work with virtual reality technology was reinforced and supported as he observed techniques being used or that could have been developed for the show.
3. his wife Jai, who supported him, challenged him, helped him, and loved him.