clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Dean Smith's Family Discusses His Health[UPDATED]

New, comments

UPDATE: Full text of the letter can be found here.

Dean Smith's family, which had been silent as stories began to trickle out about his condition, released a letter to the media:

It has been an open secret for months among people close to North Carolina basketball: Dean Smith, the legendary Tar Heel coach, is facing health issues. Smith, who’s 79, is an intensely private man. But rumors about his condition spun so out of control, a school spokesman had to confirm last week that Smith is still alive.

Now his family has decided to speak out. In a letter released Saturday, the Smith family said, in part, "… Our dad has a progressive neurocognitive disorder that affects his memory. So now, he may not immediately recall the name of every former player from his many years in coaching, but that does not diminish what those players meant to him or how much he cares about them. He still remembers the words of a hymn or a jazz standard, but may not feel up to going to a concert. He still plays golf, though usually only for nine holes instead of eighteen. He still attends some sporting events –you might see him in the stands at his grandson’s baseball game. He has difficulty traveling long distances to see the Heels on the road, but he insists on watching all Carolina basketball games on television and cheers as hard as he can for Coach Williams and the team.

Although some of the ways he experiences daily life have changed, he still cherishes his many relationships with Carolina basketball, his family and his friends."

The rumor that Dean had died last week reach a point where it required public denial from UNC. My guess on that is John Feinstein's blog post came to light around that same time and it paints a very bleak picture. Dean's family obviously felt the need to paint a different picture. The letter makes the situation sound less dire than what was offered up by Dan Wiederer or John Feinstein. Also, releasing something "official" means the questions from the media will largely cease allowing the coach that privacy he has so famously cherished.

Continued thoughts and prayers for the former coach of the Tar Heels.