I wasn’t a Tar Heels fan, but I remember my classmates wanted the North Carolina Starter jacket back in high school. According to ESPN, Dean Smith, the coaching innovator who won two national championships at North Carolina, an Olympic gold medal in 1976 and induction into basketball’s Hall of Fame more than a decade before he left the bench, has died. He was 83.
The retired coach died “peacefully” at his North Carolina home Saturday night, the school said in a statement Sunday from Smith’s family. He was with his wife and five children.
Smith had health issues in recent years, with the family saying in 2010 that he had a condition that was causing him to lose memory. He had kept a lower profile during that time. His wife, Linnea, accepted the Presidential Medal of Freedom on his behalf from President Barack Obama in November 2013.
Michael Jordan said, “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.”
RIP to a college basketball legend.
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