Legendary Tar Heel Coach Dean Smith Dies At 83

| by Daniel Yancelson

Legendary North Carolina Tar Heels’ basketball coach, Dean Smith passed away “peacefully” Feb. 7, according to the university. Smith was 83.

"Coach Dean Smith passed away peacefully the evening of February 7 at his home in Chapel Hill, and surrounded by his wife and five children," the Smith family said in a statement.

Smith coached the Tar Heels from 1961 to 1997 and led North Carolina to national championships in 1982 and 1993. During his time there, Smith coached many legends, but none bigger than Michael Jordan, who issued a statement regarding Smith’s passing:

"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 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."

The Tar Heels’ basketball arena is named the Dean Smith Center in his honor, but he brought much more than just a name to the program.

"His concern for people will be the legacy I will remember most," current Tar Heel coach, Roy Williams said in a statement. "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.

"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. When I came back to Carolina, the driving force was to make him proud and I still think that today."

Williams spent 10 years as an assistant to Smith.

Smith was one of the most successful coaches in all of sports. More than 95 percent of Smith’s players went on to graduate, and more than 50 continued to play professionally.

Williams’ quote is probably the best way to describe Smith.

"[Smith] was the greatest there ever was on the court but far, far better off the court with people."

Sources: ESPN, SB Nation / Photo Credit: Wikipedia