It is not uncommon for people to leave material things or money for family members in their will. Former basketball players were surprised earlier this week when they received a check from the estate of their former coach, Dean Smith, who died last month at the age of 83.
ABC News reported that Smith is best known for coaching basketball at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In his will, he left $200 for each letter winner during his 36 years at that one school. Tim Breedlove, the trustee of Smith’s estate, revealed that last Monday, $200 checks were mailed to 180 letter winners.
This is just one example of the type of man Smith was. He acknowledged his appreciation to his players even after his death. What is so wonderful about this story is that the recipients knew nothing about this generous gesture until they were holding the check in their hands. They played well for him because they respected him and were loyal to him. They never expected that they would be rewarded in this way.
USA Today reported George Karl’s reaction to getting a $200 check from Dean Smith. When the player received the check, he got very emotional about his former coach.
Karl said, “It just continues my amazement of him.”
Other recipients reacted in similar ways. Jeb Barlow, who played at UNC from 1980-1982, indicated that he never expected a $200 check, but he was not surprised that Coach Smith would have done something like this.
Serge Zwikker, who was coached by Dean Smith from 1993-1997, said the check brought tears to his eyes. He related that he will donate his check to a good cause because he doesn’t want to personally spend it. Zwikker added that he didn’t think the giving of the checks should have been publicized. He doesn’t think Smith would have wanted it that way.
Dante Calabria, who played on Smith’s 1993 national title team, posted a copy of the letter on his Facebook page on Thursday. Dean Smith’s message was for his players to “enjoy a dinner out compliments of Coach Dean Smith.”
Dean Smith was head coach of men’s college basketball during his career. The Basketball Hall of Fame called him a “coaching legend.” He is best known for coaching at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1961 to 1997. He retired with a record at that time for 879 victories.
Have you ever been surprised by a gift you least expected such as the one Dean Smith left behind for his players?
[Image via Getty Images]