North Carolina lawmakers honored the life and memory of legendary Tar Heel basketball coach Dean Edwards Smith Wednesday.
The House and Senate unanimously passed House Joint Resolution 670, which details the monumental accomplishments in Smith’s life.
House Speaker Tim Moore called Smith an ambassador not only for the University of North Carolina but for the state of North Carolina. The beloved Tar Heel coach passed away in February.
Many legislators spoke to Smith’s exemplary qualities as a a coach and a person and the life lessons he taught them.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News & Observer
“We didn’t just admire him; we loved him,” said Rep. Verla Insko, an Orange County Democrat. “We learned from coach Smith that basketball is more than a game. It’s about growing up, doing your best, and never letting discouragement loose the game for you.”
Rep. Josh Dobson, an Avery County Republican, said some of his earliest and best memories were watching Carolina basketball with his father, who taught him to respect Smith.
“I can literally mark time in my life by the Carolina basketball games,” he said.
A basketball player himself, he treasures the memory of UNC basketball camp as a teen, where Smith talked to and took pictures with each player in attendance.
“He showed us how it was supposed to be done in life and on the court,” Dobson said. “The Tar Heels are better because of Coach Smith.”
Rep. Edward Hanes, a Forsyth County Democrat, shared the story of how he grew up playing basketball with the goal of becoming a Tar Heel. Due to injuries, Hanes started out playing on the Tar Heel freshman team. However, he was cut from the varsity team during tryouts the following year.
Hanes’ father’s words then: “Coach Dean Smith has cut far better basketball players than you.”
“I would say to Coach Smith, ‘Thank you for allowing the dreams of a little boy in Winston-Salem to be a Tar Heel basketball player, if even for a moment,’” Hanes said.
Sen. Rick Gunn, an Alamance County Republican, said his blood runs Carolina blue and this resolution is a wonderful tribute to a the coach.
“Though his basketball record speaks for itself, he was a better life coach than basketball coach. To this day, players of all statute and wealth come back in groves to Chapel Hill and that family and the father of it, Coach Smith,” Gunn said. “Because of his actions on and off the court, people are so respectful and loyal to Coach Smith.”