- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 8, 2015

President Obama mourned the death of University of North Carolina coaching legend Dean Smith, praising the basketball legend and Medal of Freedom winner Sunday as a “gentleman and a citizen” on and off the court. Mr. Smith, who won two national championships during his 36 years with the Tarheels, died peacefully late Saturday, surrounded by family at his North Carolina home. He was 83.

Mr. Obama praised Mr. Smith for fostering UNC products such as Michael Jordan, for which “all of us from Chicago are thankful.”

“But more importantly, Coach Smith showed us something that I’ve seen again and again on the court — that basketball can tell us a lot more about who you are than a jump shot alone ever could,” Mr. Obama said. “He graduated more than 96 percent of his players and taught his teams to point to the teammate who passed them the ball after a basket.”

The president said Mr. Smith recruited the first black scholarship athlete to North Carolina and helped integrate a neighborhood in the university’s town of Chapel Hill.

“And, in his final years,” he added, “Coach Smith showed us how to fight an illness with courage and dignity.”

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