Born Dean Edwards Smith in Emporia, Kansas, the man known for his legendary career as coach of the North Carolina Tarheels basketball team, passed away at his home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on February 7, 2015 at age 83. While the announcement of his death did not include a cause, it had been widely reported that the coach had been suffering from a neurological disorder.
Smith’s 879 victories rank him No. 4 among major college men’s basketball coaches, and his teams won two national championships. He turned out a host of all-Americans, most notably Michael Jordan, perhaps basketball’s greatest player, but he emphasized unselfish team play, encouraging a shooter who made a basket to point to the teammate who got the assist.
In a statement released on Twitter, Jordan said Smith was “more than a coach — he was a mentor, my teacher, my second father,” who had taught him not only about basketball but about “the game of life.”
Read the full story: Dean Smith, Legendary Coach Who Made North Carolina a National Power, Dies at 83
Smith started his coaching career as an assistant at the University of Kansas. He was hired as an assistant at the University of North Carolina in 1958 after spending time as an assistant at the Air Force Academy. He won the head coaching job at UNC in 1961, retiring in 1997. He led his teams to numerous championships and won many personal accolades including the Medal of Freedom.
A member of nearly every basketball Hall of Fame, Smith coached the Tar Heels from 1961 to 1997. In that time, he won the NCAA tournament in 1982 and 1993, and he retired as the winningest coach in college basketball, a title now held by Mike Krzyzewski, his longtime rival at Duke. More than 50 of Smith’s players continued their careers professionally, including Jordan, who felt so fondly about the Tar Heels that he wore the school’s shorts underneath his Chicago Bulls uniform.
Read the full story: Dean Smith, North Carolina Coaching Great, Dies at 83