Former North Carolina head coach Dean Smith has passed away at the age of 83, the school announced today.
Smith was the head coach of the Tar Heels for four decades, landing the role in 1961 and finally stepping down in 1997 when he decided to retire from the game that he dedicated so much of his life to.
The college basketball hall of famer passed away at his home peacefully. He is still only one of two men to have won a national championship as a player and a coach.
“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,” Smith’s 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 retired as the retiring as the winningest coach in college basketball. He led the Tar Heels to national championships in 1982 and 1993, to 13 ACC Tournament titles, 11 Final Fours, and an NIT championship, and directed the United States Olympic Team to a gold medal at the 1976 Summer Games.
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Smith coached Michael Jordan when the great one was just a youngster and the 'His Airness' released a statement of his own following the news broke of his former mentor's passing.
“Other than my parents, no one had a bigger influence on my life than Coach Smith. He was more than a coach — he was my mentor, my teacher, my second father. Coach was always there for me whenever I needed him and I loved him for it."
"In teaching me the game of basketball, he taught me about life. My heart goes out to Linnea and their kids. We’ve lost a great man who had an incredible impact on his players, his staff and the entire UNC family.”
Smith was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1983 and is also a member of the the FIBA Hall of Fame, the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame and the College Basketball Hall of Fame. In 2006, he was named to the inaugural class of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame along with James Naismith, Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell and John Wooden.