Obama Honors Smith with Medal of Freedom

Posted Nov 20, 2013

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama has honored retired North Carolina men's basketball coach Dean Smith with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, praising the Hall of Famer for a career full of wins on the court and societal change off it.

Smith was one of 16 recipients of the highest civilian honor for contributions to society. Smith was unable to attend Wednesday's ceremony at the White House due to health reasons. Obama presented the award to his wife, Dr. Linnea Smith.

Smith retired in 1997 after 36 seasons with the Tar Heels as the winningest coach in NCAA men's history with 879 wins. He won two national championships, reached 11 Final Fours, and won 13 Atlantic Coast Conference tournament titles. He led the U.S. men's team to gold in the 1976 Summer Olympics.

Obama said Smith's successes "go far beyond Xs and Os."

"While Coach Smith couldn't join us today due to an illness that he's facing with extraordinary courage, we also honor his courage in helping to change our country," Obama said. "He recruited the first black scholarship athlete to North Carolina and helped to integrate a restaurant and a neighborhood in Chapel Hill. That's the kind of character that he represented on and off the court."

Smith, 82, has kept a low profile since his family revealed in 2010 that Smith had a "progressive neurocognitive disorder that affects his memory."

Current UNC men's basketball coach Roy Williams, who spent 10 years as an assistant to Smith before taking over at Kansas, and longtime assistant Bill Guthridge also attended the ceremony.

Smith was honored alongside former President Bill Clinton and TV personality Oprah Winfrey on Wednesday. He joins UCLA's John Wooden as the second men's college basketball coach to receive the award, which was created five decades ago by President John F. Kennedy.

Related Stories
Roy Williams PC Quotes & Video
 -by InsideCarolina.com  Nov 21, 2013
Charlie Scott on Dean Smith
 -by InsideCarolina.com  Nov 21, 2013
Thad: Remarkable Leadership
 -by InsideCarolina.com  Nov 20, 2013

Inside Carolina's Official Online Store:

Get the Inside Carolina Magazine!

The glossy, monthly magazine includes top-notch features, analysis and fantastic photos.



Subscribe today to the Inside Carolina Magazine, our glossy magazine publication covering Tar Heel sports!
Free Email Newsletter
Don't miss any news or features from InsideCarolina.com. Subscribe to our newsletter to have our newest articles emailed to you on a daily or weekly basis.
Click here for a list of all Team Newsletters.

Add Topics to My HotList
Get free email alerts with news about your favorite topics. Click link to add to My HotList.
Basketball > North Carolina
[View My HotList]