Dean Smith Biography

(Basketball Coach)

Birthday: February 28, 1931 (Pisces)

Born In: Emporia, Kansas, United States

Dean Edwards Smith was a former American collegiate basketball coach. He was known for his 36 year coaching stint at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He retired as the most successful men’s collegiate basketball coach with 879 victories, which was the NCAA Division I men's basketball record at that time. Smith fetched his team two national championship titles and was named as the National Coach of the Year four times in his coaching career and Acc Coach of the Year eight times. He was considered to be a wonderful mentor as 96.6% of his players received their degrees and many of them, including Michael Jordan and James Worthy, became the star players in the NBA. Other players such as Larry Brown and Roy Williams became distinguished coaches at the collegiate or professional level. Smith was also known for his strong dedication towards racial incorporation - he was one of the first white coaches in the South to recruit African-American players in the 1960s. For his efforts and brilliance, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama. He wasi nducted in the Basketball Hall of Fame and was been named as a ‘coaching legend’.
Quick Facts

Also Known As: Dean Edwards Smith

Died At Age: 83


Spouse/Ex-: Ann Cleavinger, Linnea Weblemoe

father: Alfred Smith

children: Kelly Smith, Kristen Smith, Sandy Smith, Scott Smith, Sharon Smith

Coaches Basketball Players

Died on: February 7, 2015

place of death: Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States

U.S. State: Kansas

More Facts

education: University of Kansas

awards: 1998 - Arthur Ashe Courage Award for the greatest American coaches
1999 - John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching Award for best coach

  • 1

    What teams did Dean Smith coach during his career?

    Dean Smith coached the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill men's basketball team from 1961 to 1997.
  • 2

    How many NCAA championships did Dean Smith win as a coach?

    Dean Smith won two NCAA championships as a coach, in 1982 and 1993, with the University of North Carolina Tar Heels.
  • 3

    What coaching style was Dean Smith known for?

    Dean Smith was known for his innovative coaching style, emphasizing team play, discipline, and the use of the "Four Corners" offense.
  • 4

    What impact did Dean Smith have on the integration of college basketball?

    Dean Smith played a significant role in the integration of college basketball by recruiting and supporting black players during a time of racial segregation.
  • 5

    How did Dean Smith influence the development of other successful coaches in basketball?

    Dean Smith's coaching tree includes notable basketball coaches such as Roy Williams, Bill Guthridge, and Larry Brown, who all learned under his guidance and went on to achieve success in their own coaching careers.
Childhood & Early Life
Dean Smith was born on 28 February 1931, in Emporia, Kansas. His father, Alfred Smith, was the coach of the Emporia High Spartans basketball team and his mother was a public school teacher.
Smith attended the Topeka High School and excelled in basketball throughout high school. He was named as all-state in basketball as a senior. He was also interested in other sports like baseball and football.
For his higher studies, he went to the University of Kansas and did major in mathematics and kept his involvement in sports alive by playing varsity basketball, varsity baseball and freshman football.
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After graduating from Kansas, Smith worked as an assistant coach at the university from 1953-54 and right after that, he served as a head coach of United States Air Force Academy’s baseball and golf teams, for a few years.
In 1958, Smith was hired by North Carolina coach McGuire to serve as an assistant coach. He worked at that position for three years and when McGuire was forced to resign, Smith became the head coach of the team.
Smith’s first season with the team in 1961-62 was his only losing season. Slowly and steadily, his team started winning consistently and by 1966 season, the team never finished worse than a tie for third.
Smith achieved first great success in the late 1960s––North Carolina won three back-to-back regular seasons and ACC tournament championships. But it took him seven trips to Final Four to get to his first national championship title.
In 1982, Smith earned the biggest high of his career by winning his first national championship. His team consisted of players like, Michael Jordan, James Worthy, etc. The team won the match playing against Houston in New Orleans.
Smith’s second national championship title came in 1993 - with team players like, George Lynch, Eric Montross, Donald Williams, Derrick Phelps, etc. They reached the finals by defeating Kansas in semifinals and finally won the title by crushing Michigan.
Smith abruptly announced his retirement in 1997, which came as a shock to everyone.
Even long after he retired, Smith continued to have the same impact on North Carolina’s major decisions. In 2003, he was contacted regarding the decision whether or not Roy Williams be made the coach of the team.
Smith coached North Carolina for 36 years and acquired in total 879 career victories and retired as the most successful men’s collegiate basketball coach.
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Award & Achievements
Smith is known for achieving 879 wins in 36 years of coaching North Carolina basketball team. He is the 4th most in men’s college Division I basketball history and a winner of two national championship titles.
He also coached the US team to a gold medal at the Summer Olympics at Montreal in 1976. That makes him one of only three coaches to have coached teams to an Olympic gold medal, an NIT championship and an NCAA championship.
Smith was named the National Coach of the Year four times and ACC Coach of the Year eight times. In 1983, he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Personal Ife & Legacy
Smith got married in 1954 to Ann Cleavinger. They had three children together - Sharon, Sandy and Scott. But the marriage ended in 1973 and the couple got divorced.
Smith got married for the second time in 1976 to Linnea Weblemoe and the couple had two daughters together, Kirsten and Kelly.
John Feinstein was planning to write a biography on Smith’s life but he abandoned the project in 2010 owing to Smith’s declining mental health. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and suffered with memory loss.
Dean Smith died on February 7, 2015, at his Chapel Hill home, at the age of 85.
Facts About Dean Smith
Dean Smith was known for his innovative coaching strategies, including being one of the first college basketball coaches to implement the "point system" for evaluating player performance in practice.
Smith was a strong advocate for civil rights and integration, actively recruiting and supporting African American players during a time when many schools in the South were still segregated.
He was a skilled tactician on the basketball court, known for his emphasis on team play and execution rather than individual stardom.
Smith famously implemented the "Four Corners" offense, a strategy to control the tempo of the game and protect a lead, which led to the introduction of the shot clock in college basketball.
Off the court, Smith was known for his humility and commitment to philanthropy, supporting various charitable causes throughout his career.

See the events in life of Dean Smith in Chronological Order

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