Updated 07:24 AM EDT, Sat, Oct 23, 2021

North Carolina Coach Dean Smith Dies at 83; Iconic Coach Remembered

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It was a sad day for college and even professional basketball leagues on Saturday as the iconic former North Carolina coach Dean Smith passed away at 83. 

Smith reportedly had his last breath beside his wife and five children inside his home in Chapel Hill. North Carolina coach Roy Williams, who served as an assistant to Smith for a long time, mourned the loss of a great legend in the basketball world.

"We lost one of our greatest ambassadors for college basketball for the way in which a program should be run. We lost a man of the highest integrity who did so many things off the court to help make the world a better place to live in. He set the standard for loyalty and concern for every one of his players, not just the games won or lost. He was the greatest there ever was on the court but far, far better off the court with people. His concern for people will be the legacy I will remember most," Williams said in a statement, as quoted by Yahoo Sports.

The coach was known to be a very efficient team leader as he won more than 20 games in his career in college basketball. According to Yahoo Sports, he led the Tar Heels to 11 Final Fours and claimed two national titles, one in 1982 and the other in 1993. Smith is also known to be the mentor of great NBA legends Michael Jordan and James Worthy.

An ESPN report explained that the coach had been dealing with a lot of health issues for the past years and in 2010, his family said that he was already losing his memory.

Yahoo Sports added that it was dementia which stole most of his memory for the past ten years that he even forgot the players he handled. Some of these players made time to visit him despite his condition while other chose not to, for them to be able to remember good memories with him.

In a statement quoted by Washington Post, Jordan shared how Smith influenced his life and career.

"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 [Smith's wife] 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," Jordan said in his statement.

Smith was Jordan's coach in North Carolina where they won two national championships back in 1982.

Aside from Jordan, Williams said that the coach also helped a lot of college basketball players during the start of their career.

"He was a mentor to so many people. He was my mentor. He gave me a chance but, more importantly, he shared with me his knowledge, which is the greatest gift you can give someone," Williams added.

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