Dean Smith, the North Carolina basketball coaching great who won two national championships, has died. He was 83.
The retired Hall of Fame coach died “peacefully” at his home Saturday night, the school said in a statement Sunday from Smith’s family. He was with his wife and five children.
Roy Williams, the current North Carolina coach who spent 10 years as Smith’s assistant, said Smith “was the greatest there ever was on the court but far, far better off the court with people.”
“I’d like to say on behalf of all our players and coaches, past and present, that Dean Smith was the perfect picture of what a college basketball coach should have been,” Williams said in a statement. “We love him and we will miss him.”
Smith coached the Tar Heels from 1961-97. He retired as the winningest coach in the sport with 879 victories. He won NCAA titles in 1982 and 1993, and coached such players as Michael Jordan and James Worthy.
He reached 11 Final Fours, won 13 Atlantic Coast Conference tournament titles and coached the U.S. Olympic team to the gold medal in 1976.
Smith had health issues in recent years, with the family saying in 2010 he had a condition that was causing him to lose memory. He had kept a lower profile during that time, with his wife, Linnea, accepting the Presidential Medal of Freedom on his behalf from President Barack Obama in November 2013.
AARON BEARD, AP Basketball Writer___