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Coach Smith’s Big Day: Tar Heel Legend Receives Pres. Medal of Freedom on Wed.

By Matt Oakes Posted November 19, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Photo courtesy of Bleacher Report

WASHINGTON, D.C.– Legendary Tar Heel basketball coach Dean Smith is set to receive his Presidential Medal of Freedom Wednesday.

President Barack Obama will present the honor to Smith and 15 others at the White House. WCHL, 97.9 FM, will have live on-air coverage of the ceremony starting around noon on Wednesday as well as wrap-up coverage with on-site reporters from Carolina Connection.

On the court, Smith won two national championships and when he retired, he was the winningest coach in college basketball history. But it is the humble man’s work away from the sport that truly set him apart and deems Smith worthy of the United States’ highest civilian honor.

Taking a stand in a time period when many high-profile figures sat on the sidelines, Smith used his position to advocate for civil rights. In fact, Smith recruited UNC’s first black scholarship athlete and helped in Chapel Hill’s desegregation process in the 1960’s.

Many of his players called Smith a “second father” and his leadership of these young men led to an impressive 96 percent graduation rate.

The wife of Coach Smith says he will not attend the Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony at the White House Wednesday.

In an interview with WNCN in Raleigh, Dr. Linnea Smith said attempts were underway to figure out how to get her husband to the presentation, but she added that traveling is hard for Smith and “it’s just really something beyond his ability right now.”

 

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