Dean Smith, the legendary longtime coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels, has died at age 83, according to the university. Smith’s family released a statement through the university’s athletic program.
“Coach Dean Smith passed away peacefully the evening of February 7 at his home in Chapel Hill, and surrounded by his wife and five children,” the Smith family said in a statement. “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 coached UNC from 1961 through 1997 and made an incredible mark not just on the famed Tar Heels program, but on all of basketball. He coached a number of legends, including Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Bob McAdoo and Billy Cunningham. His coaching tree is massive, claiming high-profile names like Larry Brown, George Karl and Roy Williams. Most importantly, he was a leader in the community on civil rights issues, recruiting UNC’s first black scholarship athlete, Charlie Scott, in 1967.
Smith won national titles in 1982 and 1993. The first was led by Jordan and Worthy, perhaps one of the greatest college teams ever. The second came with a less-renowned cast, with Smith leading the Heels past Michigan’s Fab Five in the championship game.
UNC’s basketball arena is named the Dean Smith Center in his honor. Reports suggest he had suffered from dementia in recent years, which kept him out of the public eye.
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