by Louis Fernandez and Zach Mayo
Retired UNC basketball coach Dean Smith has received the nation’s highest civilian honor.
Smith, 82, was among 16 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. President Obama presented the honor at a White House ceremony. Smith, who is in poor health, did not attend the ceremony, but was represented by a delegation that included his wife, Dr. Linnea Smith, UNC head basketball coach Roy Williams, and former coach Bill Guthridge.
Smith coached at UNC 36 years and his teams won two national titles. He also has been a lifelong advocate for social justice and was an early supporter of integration in the segregated south.
“He recruited the first black scholarship athlete to North Carolina and helped integrate a restaurant and a neighborhood in Chapel Hill,” President Obama said. “That’s the kind of character that he represented on and off the court.”
Carolina Connection’s Louis Fernandez attended the White House ceremony, and he spoke afterward with WCHL’s Aaron Keck.
Carolina Connection’s Zach Mayo filed this live report from the White House in advance of the ceremony. He talks with WCHL’s Ron Stutts: