There are a lot of college coaches all around the country. There are so many that it’s hard to tell the difference between almost all of them unless they do something to stand out and make themselves worth remembering. Dean Smith, former University of North Carolina men’s basketball head coach, was one of those coaches. Unfortunately, on Saturday, Smith passed away at the age of 83.
Smith’s coaching career lasted more than 40 years, and he got the opportunity to not only coach, but help shape some of the best basketball players, like Michael Jordan, James Worthy. Smith also helped shape fellow Hall of Fame Coaches Larry Brown and Roy Williams.
Not only did he lead his North Carolina team to two national championships, he was also an Olympic Gold Medalist in 1976 and was inducted into basketball’s Hall of Fame.
Smith’s health issues were kept quiet, but the people that were most important were by his side through it all. His family released a statement in 2010 saying he had a condition where his memory was deteriorating. We didn’t see or hear much about him at the time.
Smith has a lot of achievements that are worth remembering. One of them is that he was the first coach at North Carolina, and among the first in the segregated South, to offer a scholarship to a black athlete.
While his list of accomplishments is incredible, one of the most amazing ones is the fact that his only losing season was his first. He also had 11 Final Four appearances and retired with more wins than any coach in men’s Division I history. Smith led Carolina to 13 ACC tournament championships and won at least 20 games in each of his final 27 seasons.
Being a basketball coach also happened to be in his blood. He was the descendant of basketball’s father, James Naismith. But Smith wasn’t just a basketball coach. He was a mentor, a leader, and a person that people looked up to, loved, and respected. The men and the people that have learned from Smith have learned how to be a better man and how to be a good person. He was an amazing basketball coach, one of the best, but also an amazing family man and person to be around.
*Section Photo credit to Halfax Media Group; Featured Photo (above) credit to Raleigh News & Observer.