NCAA Division 1’s “winningest” coach Dean Smith, who died in February, is now remembered as the most kindhearted and thoughtful coach as Bookmakers Solutions learned of his extraordinary gift from the grave.
On Monday a check and a letter were mailed out to 180 of 200 letterman former players of the coach. The check was for $200, and a note telling the former players to “enjoy a dinner out’.
The 83 year old, who coached for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for 36 years, retired in 1997 with 879 wins, 2 NCAA titles, and 11 visits to the Final Four.
Smith was also known for having one of the highest graduation rates of any program, with 96.6%. He had also recruited the first African-American player, Charlie Scott, to the school, and helped promote equality in the community.
“He was so humble that it wasn’t easy to find sound bites from him,” said Ross Greenburg, the executive producer of a new documentary. “We added some more after he passed because it felt a little barren without them. But he didn’t do a lot of interviews. He wasn’t the kind of guy to wander onto ‘Charlie Rose’ for an hour. I guess he never felt comfortable doing that. He was unrevealing about himself.”
Former players of this wonderful coach include Michael Jordan, Charlie Scott, Mike O’Koren, James Worthy, J. R. Reid, Hubert Davis, Eric Montross, Phil Ford, Antawn Jamison, Mitch Kupchak, Dante Calabria and Bob Bennett.
Even after retirement Smith had made a point of making himself available to all of his former players and helping various charities, until dementia started to set in. In a statement in 2010 his family announced that Smith had a “progressive neurocognitive disorder”,
The letter read:
“Each player was important and special to Coach Smith and when he prepared his estate plan, Coach (Smith) wanted to reach out to each of his letterman. Accordingly, Coach directed that following his passing, each letterman be sent a two hundred dollar ($200.00) check with the message ‘enjoy dinner out compliments of Coach Dean Smith.’ Enclosed is a check in the amount of two hundred dollars ($200.00) with the notation ‘Dinner out.’
That is a wonderful way to say good-bye to a great life, and thank the people important in your life, and bookmakers solutions and fans alike will surely miss Coach Smith.