Painting a fuller portrait of the man off the court

Dean Smith’s coaching career — which includes two national championships and 879 wins — is excellently documented. A new gift to the University Libraries promises to bring Carolina fans even closer to the legendary coach and his life off the court.

Smith’s family donated 12,000 of his items to the Southern Historical Collection at the Wilson Special Collections Library. The public collection contains school projects and newspaper clippings from Smith’s childhood in Emporia, Kansas. It also contains personal letters and speeches from his retirement, revealing how Smith kept up with the basketball world. It even contains memorabilia showcasing former Carolina players’ NBA careers, including a Michael Jordan Wheaties box.

“Here is one of the most important public figures ever associated with the University and, of course, his roots are in Kansas, so it’s really interesting to see how a persona develops and the way that southerners embraced him as part of the bigger story of southern basketball,” said Bryan Giemza, director of the Southern Historical Collection. “[The collection] brings more texture to the portrait of the life of one of the most esteemed leaders that the state and University has known in recent years.”

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This is story number 119 in the Carolina Stories 225th Anniversary Edition magazine.