Carolina Coach Dean Smith Remembered: ‘He Taught Me About Life’

Dean Smith, the Hall of Fame basketball coach who built the North Carolina Tar Heels into one of the pre-eminent college programs before retiring with a record number of victories, died Saturday night at the age of 83. Following are some tributes:

Michael Jordan, basketball Hall of Famer, chairman of the National Basketball Association’s Charlotte Hornets, and as a freshman hit the game winning shot to give Smith his first national title in 1982:

“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.”

U.S. President Barack Obama:

“Coach Smith showed us something that I’ve seen again and again on the court -– that basketball can tell us a lot more about who you are than a jumpshot alone ever could. He graduated more than 96 percent of his players and taught his teams to point to the teammate who passed them the ball after a basket. He pushed forward the civil rights movement, recruiting the first black scholarship athlete to North Carolina and helping to integrate a restaurant and a neighborhood in Chapel Hill. And in his final years, Coach Smith showed us how to fight an illness with courage and dignity.”

North Carolina Coach Roy Williams, a UNC graduate who was an assistant to Smith:

“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.”

Duke University basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski:

“The greatest gift was his unique ability to teach what it takes to become a good man. That was easy for him to do because he was a great man himself. All his players benefited greatly from his basketball teachings, but even more from his ability to help mold men of integrity, honor and purpose.”

James Worthy, basketball Hall of Famer and Jordan’s teammate on the 1982 national championship team:

“There are so many things I could say about Coach Dean Smith but simply put, he is the greatest man I’ve ever known.”

Peter Gammons, winner of the 2004 JG Taylor Spink Award for baseball writing and honored at the Baseball Hall of Fame:

“Many of us owe a life of thanks to Dean Smith. ‘You can be really good,’ he implored, pushing me to a journalistic life”

“Many coaches care about their own legacies. Dean Smith cared about every person he knew.”

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