UNC alum and NBA standout Michael Jordan kisses former University of North CarolinREUTERS/ELLEN OZIER

Dean Smith, a legendary head basketball coach at the University of North Carolina whose proteges included NBA great Michael Jordan, has died at age 83, the university said on Sunday.

He died on Saturday evening at his home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, according to a statement from his family.

As the head coach of the Tar Heels from 1961 to 1997, Smith retired as the "winningest coach in college basketball," the university said in a news release on its website.

His teams won two national championships, including the 1982 title with a squad led by Jordan, who went on to a Hall of Fame career with the NBA's Chicago Bulls.


Smith was named one of the seven greatest coaches of the 20th century by ESPN's SportsCentury program, the university noted.

His work to integrate the once all-white basketball program was a milestone in the civil rights movement.

In 1966, Charlie Scott became the first African-American scholarship athlete at Carolina.

Smith was a strong civil rights activist and education champion.

He also fought vigorously against the death penalty.

On a school website, an official bio says: “In the 1960s, he protested the Vietnam War; in the early 1980s, he recorded radio spots to promote a freeze on nuclear weapons; and in 1998, he appeared at a clemency hearing for a death-row inmate and told then-Gov. Jim Hunt, “You’re a murderer. And I’m a murderer. The death penalty makes us all murderers.”

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