In the long career of former North Carolina head coach Dean Smith, the Hall of Famer has received a number of honors from all realms of life. On Thursday it was reported that he’ll receive yet another honor, as he’s going to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest honor a U.S. civilian can receive, and this is the second consecutive year in which a former college basketball coach as been honored. Last year, former Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt was honored by the President.
“The Presidential Medal of Freedom goes to men and women who have dedicated their own lives to enriching ours,” Obama said in a statement announcing the recipients.
“This year’s honorees have been blessed with extraordinary talent, but what sets them apart is their gift for sharing that talent with the world. It will be my honor to present them with a token of our nation’s gratitude.”
Smith led the North Carolina basketball program for 36 years, posting an overall record of 879-254, making 11 Final Four appearances and winning two national titles (1982 and 1993). Smith also led the Tar Heels to 17 ACC regular season and 13 ACC tournament titles.
Joining Smith in receiving the honor this year are people such as Chicago Cub great Ernie Banks, former President Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and Sally Ride, the first female American astronaut.