Born In: Chicago, Illinois, United States
American former college basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, better known as Coach K, is known for his illustrious career as the head coach of the Duke University team, the Duke Blue Devils, from 1980 to 2022. Initially, during his stint with the US Army, he was coached by Bob Knight. His tenure with Duke saw the Blue Devils win 5 national titles and reach 13 Final Fours (the most by any coach). Krzyzewski has also helped the US men’s national team win 3 Olympic gold medals and 2 FIBA World Cup honors as the head coach. He has been named America’s Best Coach by TIME and CNN, while Sports Illustrated named him the 2011 Sportsman of the Year. He is also a 2-time inductee of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Krzyzewski has also been associated with several charitable initiatives and is a bestselling author, too.
Nick Name: Coach K
Also Known As: Michael William Krzyzewsk
Spouse/Ex-: Mickie Krzyzewski (m. 1969)
father: William Krzyzewski
mother: Emily M., United States Military Academy
siblings: Bill Krzyzewski
children: Debbie, Jamie, Jamie Spatola, Lindy
Born Country: United States
U.S. State: Illinois
Mike Krzyzewski, also known as Coach K, was born Michael William Krzyzewski, on February 13, 1947, in Chicago, Illinois, US, to Polish American parents Emily and William Krzyzewski. Part of a Catholic family, Krzyzewski initially attended the St. Helen Catholic School in Ukrainian Village, Chicago, and then joined the Catholic boys’ prep school Archbishop Weber High School in Chicago.
In 1969, Krzyzewski graduated from West Point’s US Military Academy. While at the academy, he excelled in basketball under Bob Knight and even captained the Army basketball team in his senior season (1968-1969). He led his team to the National Invitation Tournament in New York.
From 1969 to 1974, he served the US Army as an officer. In 2005, he received West Point's Distinguished Graduate Award.
After being discharged from the army in 1974, Mike Krzyzewski began his coaching career as Knight’s assistant in the Indiana University team Indiana Hoosiers. In 1975, he was hired by the Army Cadets as their head coach and thus went back to West Point.
In 1980, he was selected by Duke University to coach their basketball team Blue Devils, on Knight’s advice. Initially, his stint with Duke was lukewarm, with no recruits in 1981. However, Krzyzewski’s fourth Duke team (1983-1984) went 24-10. Thus started a streak of 11 consecutive seasons, with 20 wins and several National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament berths.
He led his team to five back-to-back Final Fours from 1988 to 1992, thus creating the second-longest such streak in the history of NCAA. His achievements also included Duke’s first 2 national championships (1991 and 1992).
His team reached the national championship in the 1993-1994 season too but lost to the University of Arkansas. In the following season, Krzyzewski stayed out of 19 games due to a back surgery. His team failed to make it to March Madness for the first time since 1982-1983.
Krzyzewski helped Duke secure another national championship game berth in the 1998-1999 season, but the Blue Devils were beaten by the University of Connecticut. Duke beat the University of Arizona in 2000-2001, to win its third national title.
In 2005, Krzyzewski earned the record-breaking 66th NCAA tournament game of his career. In 2008, He became the fourth NCAA Division I with 800 career wins. In 2010, he led Duke to their fourth national championship.
In 2011, he won the 903rd game of his career and surpassed Knight as the coach with the most wins in Division I history. In 2014-2015, Duke earned their fifth national title under Krzyzewski. In June 2021, he declared his wish to retire at the end of the upcoming season.
Duke won the ACC regular-season title that season (its 13th under Krzyzewski’s coaching). Though the team made it to the Final Four appearance, they were defeated by North Carolina. Krzyzewski’s 42-year coaching career with Duke ended with a record of 1,202-368. Among men's college basketball coaches, he is second to only UCLA's John Wooden in terms of NCAA championship wins.
Krzyzewski also led the US men’s national team to win gold medals at the 2008 (Beijing), 2012 (London), and 2016 (Rio de Janeiro) Olympics, as the head coach, and at the 1984 (Los Angeles) and 1992 (Barcelona) Olympics, as the assistant coach. He also coached the men’s team to gold wins at the 2010 and 2014 FIBA World Championships.
In 2001, Mike Krzyzewski was named to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He was also inducted into the Army Sports Hall of Fame (2009) and the Duke Athletics Hall of Fame (2011), among others.
He has been named National Coach of the Year by many organizations. He is also a 5-time ACC Coach of the Year (the second-most in league history).
In 2004, he won the Claire Bee Coach of the Year award, which honors an active Division I men’s basketball coach with the most significant contribution to basketball every year. In 2008, Nike launched the Michael Krzyzewski Fitness Center, 47,000-square-foot facility on the Nike campus in Portland.
TIME and CNN jointly named him America’s Best Coach in 2001, while Sports Illustrated named him Sportsman of the Year in 2011 (the first such feat by a college coach). In 2010, he was named to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s Dream Team. In 2015, he received the Lapchick Character Award.
He has received the USA Basketball Coach of the Year honor 7 times (2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016). He has also earned the Amos Alonzo Stagg Coaching Award of the US Sports Academy in 1992, 2009, and 2012.
Following Mike Krzyzewski’s retirement from coaching, he and his wife continued to serve Duke University as Ambassadors. Krzyzewski and his family established the Emily Krzyzewski Center, a community center in Durham, named after his late mother. It is geared toward motivating students to become future leaders. Their K to College Model trained academically gifted and financially challenged students in out-of-school programs to help them get into good colleges.
Krzyzewski and his wife have also raised funds for the Duke Children's Hospital, the Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research, and the Children's Miracle Network. They also launched scholarships for student-athletes.
Krzyzewski has been on the boards of several organizations, such as the Code of Support Foundation, the NABC Foundation, and the CEO Roundtable on Cancer. In 2012, Krzyzewski was awarded the Wayman Tisdale Humanitarian Award by the US Basketball Writers Association, for his charitable efforts.
He also took over as the honorary co-chair of C-Change in 2006. The organization worked to end cancer and had George H.W. Bush as one of its co-founders.
Krzyzewski is also a best-selling author who has co-written several books, such as A Season is a Lifetime (1993), co-authored with Bill Brill. With Don Phillips, he penned Leading with the Heart (2000) and Five-Point Play (2001).
He and his daughter Jamie penned the books Beyond Basketball: Coach K’s Keywords for Success (2006) and The Gold Standard: Building a World-Class Team (2009). Since 2005, Krzyzewski has also hosted the hour-long radio show titled Basketball and Beyond with Coach K.
Mike Krzyzewski apparently met his wife Carol "Mickie" Marsh on a flight. She worked as an airline stewardess back then. The couple tied the knot in 1969, at a Catholic chapel in West Point, New York, on the day of Krzyzewski’s graduation.
In 2004, to celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary, the couple renewed their vows at Duke Chapel. They have 3 daughters: Debbie, Jamie, and Lindy. They also have 10 grandchildren. Carol was the only person who convinced her husband to step down as coach during the 1994-1995 season, when he suffered from a ruptured disk.
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