Hall of Fame coach dies Feb. 7

Reggie Jeffries, Staff Writer

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On Feb. 7 Dean Smith, the coaching innovator who won two national championships in North Carolina, an Olympic gold medal in 1976, and an induction into the basketball’s Hall of Fame more than a decade before he left the bench, died at age 83.

Galileo’s Principal Jay Lancaster attended UNC basketball camps in Chapel Hill growing up when Michael Jordan had just graduated.

“Dean Smith was a part of my childhood,” Principal Jay Lancaster said. “My shooting instructor was Brad Darty and that’s when Coach Smith came around to talk to all the campers. Truly it was somebody, a part of my childhood passing away. It’s gonna be a tough day for Tar Heels.”

Seniors Chris Pritchett and Jermal Stephens at Galileo Magnet High School were in total shock after hearing the passing away of Smith.

“He coached Jordan,” Pritchett and Stephens both stated.

In a career that spanned more than 40 years, more than 50 of Smith’s players went on to play professionally in the NBA or the ABA, and more played overseas. Among them, Charlie Scott, Walter Davis, Sam Perkins, Brad Daugherty, J.R. Reid, Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace, Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison, and the likes of Jordan and James Worthy, nevertheless,  influencing  the game and how it is played in ways that are unrivaled.

Along with Williams and Brown, Smith was the only coach to win both an NCAA and NBA title.

“Other than my parents, no one had a bigger influence on my life than Coach Smith,” Michael Jordan said in a press release after Smith’s death.

Jordan described him as more than a coach; he was his mentor, his teacher, his second father.

“Coach was always there for me whenever I needed him and I loved him for it,” Jordan said. “In teaching me the game of basketball, he taught me about life. We’ve lost a great man who had an incredible impact on his players, his staff and the entire UNC family.”

In addition to wife Linnea, Smith is survived by daughters Sandy, Sharon, Kristen, Kelly, his son Scott, and his seven grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.

The family scheduled a private church service for Thursday for family, close friends, former players, coaches and team managers who were asked to RSVP if they want to attend.

The University of North Carolina will hold a public memorial service for Smith on Feb. 22. According to the school’s Web site the service will take place in the campus arena bearing the name of the Hall of Fame coach.

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Hall of Fame coach dies Feb. 7