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WASHINGTON, DC (WWAY) — President Barack Obama has announced former University of North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith is among 16 recipients who will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom this year.

Smith, 82, started coaching the Tar Heels in 1961. He retired in 1997 as the winningest coach in college basketball history. Along the way he won two national championships and graduated 96 percent of his players.

Smith has been battling a progressive memory disorder recently.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the Nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. The awards will be presented at the White House later this year.

“The Presidential Medal of Freedom goes to men and women who have dedicated their own lives to enriching ours,” President Obama said in a statement. “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.”

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The other recipients are:

Ernie Banks
Known to many as “Mr. Cub,” Ernie Banks is one of the greatest baseball players of all time. During his 19 seasons with the Chicago Cubs, he played in 11 All-Star Games, hit over 500 home runs, and became the first National League player to win Most Valuable Player honors in back-to-back years. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977, his first year of eligibility.

Ben Bradlee
Ben Bradlee is one of the most respected newsmen of his generation. During his tenure as executive editor of The Washington Post, Mr. Bradlee oversaw coverage of the Watergate scandal, successfully challenged the Federal Government over the right to publish the Pentagon Papers, and guided the newspaper through some of its most challenging moments. He also served in the Navy during World War II.

Bill Clinton
President Clinton was the 42nd President of the United States. Before taking office, he served as Governor and Attorney General of the State of Arkansas. Following his second term, President Clinton established the Clinton Foundation to improve global health, strengthen economies, promote health and wellness, and protect the environment. He also formed the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund with President George W. Bush in 2010.

Daniel Inouye (posthumous)
Daniel Inouye was a lifelong public servant. As a young man, he fought in World War II with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, for which he received the Medal of Honor. He was later elected to the Hawaii Territorial House of Representatives, the United States House of Representatives, and the United States Senate. Sen. Inouye was the first Japanese American to serve in Congress, representing the people of Hawaii from the moment they joined the Union.

Daniel Kahneman
Daniel Kahneman is a pioneering scholar of psychology. After escaping Nazi occupation in World War II, Dr. Kahneman immigrated to Israel, where he served in the Israel Defense Forces and trained as a psychologist. Alongside Amos Tversky, he applied cognitive psychology to economic analysis, laying the foundation for a new field of research and earning the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002. He is currently a professor at Princeton University.

Richard Lugar
Richard Lugar represented Indiana in the United States Senate for more than 30 years. An internationally respected statesman, he is best known for his bipartisan leadership and decades-long commitment to reducing the threat of nuclear weapons. Prior to serving in Congress, Sen. Lugar was a Rhodes Scholar and Mayor of Indianapolis from 1968 to 1975. He currently serves as President of the Lugar Center.

Loretta Lynn
Loretta Lynn is a country music legend. Raised in rural Kentucky, she emerged as one of the first successful female country music vocalists in the early 1960s, courageously breaking barriers in an industry long dominated by men. Ms. Lynn’s numerous accolades include the Kennedy Center Honors in 2003 and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.

Mario Molina
Mario Molina is a visionary chemist and environmental scientist. Born in Mexico, Dr. Molina came to America to pursue his graduate degree. He later earned the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering how chlorofluorocarbons deplete the ozone layer. Dr. Molina is a professor at the University of California, San Diego; Director of the Mario Molina Center for Energy and Environment; and a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

Sally Ride (posthumous)
Sally Ride was the first American female astronaut to travel to space. As a role model to generations of young women, she advocated passionately for science education, stood up for racial and gender equality in the classroom, and taught students from every background that there are no limits to what they can accomplish. Dr. Ride also served in several administrations as an advisor on space exploration.

Bayard Rustin (posthumous)
Bayard Rustin was an unyielding activist for civil rights, dignity, and equality for all. An advisor to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., he promoted nonviolent resistance, participated in one of the first Freedom Rides, organized the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and fought tirelessly for marginalized communities at home and abroad. As an openly gay African American, Mr. Rustin stood at the intersection of several of the fights for equal rights.

Arturo Sandoval
Arturo Sandoval is a celebrated jazz trumpeter, pianist, and composer. Born outside Havana, he became a protégé of jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie and gained international acclaim as a dynamic performer. He defected to the United States in 1990 and later became an American citizen. He has been awarded nine Grammy Awards and is widely considered one of the greatest living jazz artists.

Dean Smith
Dean Smith was head coach of the University of North Carolina basketball team from 1961 to 1997. In those 36 years, he earned two national championships, was named National Coach of the Year multiple times, and retired as the winningest men’s college basketball coach in history. Ninety-six percent of his players graduated from college. Mr. Smith has also remained a dedicated civil rights advocate throughout his career.

Gloria Steinem
Gloria Steinem is a renowned writer and activist for women’s equality. She was a leader in the women’s liberation movement, co-founded Ms. magazine, and helped launch a wide variety of groups and publications dedicated to advancing civil rights. Ms. Steinem has received dozens of awards over the course of her career, and remains an active voice for women’s rights.

Cordy Tindell “C.T.” Vivian
C.T. Vivian is a distinguished minister, author, and organizer. A leader in the Civil Rights Movement and friend to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., he participated in Freedom Rides and sit-ins across our country. Dr. Vivian also helped found numerous civil rights organizations, including Vision, the National Anti-Klan Network, and the Center for Democratic Renewal. In 2012, he returned to serve as interim President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Patricia Wald
Patricia Wald is one of the most respected appellate judges of her generation. After graduating as one of only 11 women in her Yale University Law School class, she became the first woman appointed to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and served as Chief Judge from 1986-1991. She later served on the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague. Ms. Wald currently serves on the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.

Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey is one of the world’s most successful broadcast journalists. She is best known for creating The Oprah Winfrey Show, which became the highest rated talk show in America for 25 years. Ms. Winfrey has long been active in philanthropic causes and expanding opportunities for young women. She has received numerous awards throughout her career, including the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award in 2002 and the Kennedy Center Honors in 2010.

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12 Comments on "Dean Smith to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom"

2015 years 10 months ago

Take a breath, you are going to burst a blood vessel. They may be cheaters in your eyes, but I bet they can spell properly.

nuthin- smirk
guvment- chuckle
WOLPFACK- priceless

2015 years 10 months ago

That feller ain’t nuthin but a dang cheater! All of them Tar Holes are! He don’t deserve no metal! This is part of the conspiracy by Johnny Swofford, ESPN, the NCAA, and now the federal guvment to try and keep down State College!


2015 years 10 months ago

Are you sure it was animal husbandry you majored in? It sounds more like you majored in conspiracy theory. You should have spent a little more time studying the dictionary.

2015 years 10 months ago

Spoken like a typicul lefty, elitest, pretentious Tar Hole.

Us on the Packpride message boards know the truth! Dan Kane at the N&O is sitting on a real bombshell that – when the time is right – he’s gonna release and bring down Cheater Hill.

I thank God every day that I didn’t get admitted to UNCheat and had to go to State College where I saw the light and learned the truth about Crappy Hill! I am not just lying to myself.

This is OUR state!

2015 years 10 months ago

and that was 4th place in the ACC

2015 years 10 months ago

Left? Hell no. Elitist? Not even close. Pretentious? You are kidding, right? Tar Hole? Nope, I didn’t apply there. You sound a little butt-hurt you couldn’t get in.

Don’t be mad just because I can spell, be mad you got robbed of an education.

typicul- smirk
elitest- chuckle

2015 years 10 months ago

Robbed of an education? My Animal Husbandry major required actually going to class, not like the fake Black History “courses” that Dean Smith helped establish to keep his players eligabul!

If it weren’t for all that dang cheating going on over there in Crappy Hole, WE’D be the ones with all the banners hanging! We are the co-flagship University of North Carolina… nobody but us sees us that way, but they’re wrong! So what if we’re ranked dead last academically of all ACC schools! That’s part of the conspiracy to keep State down!

I can’t wait till after this football season where – if we’re successful – we can throw another 4th Place parade in Raleigh like back when Rivers was in school.


Guest notfernothing
2015 years 10 months ago

I’m guessing that’s gonna work for you if your a guy but if your a women then that’s not gonna work for you at all cause they don’t have some equal degree like maybe Animal Wifery.

Didn’t go to one a them big shot schools like you important folks but I’m thinking that just don’t sound right about them not having no Animal Wifery degree thing an those women not getting a equal chance to get what you done got!

These days some a them stong opinioned women aint gonna go for no discrimination like that no more no way. Things sure changed from them days!

2015 years 10 months ago

Since you seem to have difficulty spelling small words, yes, you have been robbed of the education you paid to receive since it obviously didn’t take. Ask for a refund.

2015 years 10 months ago

The poor wuffies cry “conspiracy” and “cheater” but facts are facts. Coach Smith was more than a coach, he is a leader. Congratulations to a fine Tar Heel.


2015 years 10 months ago

From a real Pack fan. What a great role model and coach. Well deserved. And I’m sure every real Pack fan feels the same as I do

2015 years 10 months ago

Congratulations Dean Smith. Well done.


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