Former University Of Carolina Coach Dean Smith Dies At 83
Dean Smith, who coached North Carolina to two men’s basketball national titles, died Saturday night at the age of 83.
Via ESPN reports:
The retired Hall of Fame coach died “peacefully” at his home Saturday night, the school said in a statement Sunday from Smith’s family. He was with his wife and five children.
“We are grateful for all the thoughts and prayers, and appreciate the continued respect for our privacy as arrangements are made available to the public. Thank you,” Smith’s family said in the statement.
Smith had health issues in recent years, with the family saying in 2010 he had a condition that was causing him to lose memory. He had kept a lower profile during that time, with his wife, Linnea, accepting the Presidential Medal of Freedom on his behalf from President Barack Obama in November 2013.
Smith coached the Tar Heels from 1961 to 1997, going 879-254 and retiring as the winningest coach in college basketball history. North Carolina won NCAA championships in 1982 and 1993 and reached the Final Four 11 times under Smith.
“We lost one of our greatest ambassadors for college basketball for the way in which a program should be run,” said current Tar Heels coach Roy Williams, who spent 10 years as an assistant under Smith. “We lost a man of the highest integrity who did so many things off the court to help make the world a better place to live in.
“He set the standard for loyalty and concern for every one of his players, not just the games won or lost.”
Smith coached Hall of Fame players Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Bob McAdoo and Billy Cunningham, won 13 Atlantic Coast Conference tournament titles and coached the U.S. Olympic team to the gold medal in 1976.
“He was the greatest there ever was on the court but far, far better off the court with people,” Williams said. “His concern for people will be the legacy I will remember most.
“He was a mentor to so many people; he was my mentor. He gave me a chance but, more importantly, he shared with me his knowledge, which is the greatest gift you can give someone.”
Several prominent basketball figures either played or coached under Smith, including Larry Brown, George Karl, Mitch Kupchak and Williams, who also has guided the Tar Heels to two national championships.
“I’m 64 years old and everything I do with our basketball program and the way I deal with the University is driven by my desire to make Coach Smith proud,” Williams said. “When I came back to Carolina, the driving force was to make him proud and I still think that today.
“I’d like to say on behalf of all our players and coaches, past and present, that Dean Smith was the perfect picture of what a college basketball coach should have been. We love him and we will miss him.”
Rest in peace to the legendary Dean Smith and condolences to his entire family.