Dean Smith

Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.

– Albert Einstein

This is a prayer for Dean Smith. 

Smith is a beautiful man. He has lived a life for others. He has given so much to the people that he loves that it is beyond reproach. 

Smith has helped integrate and has helped innovate. 

When faced with ignominious treatment, such as his ejection in the 1991 Final Four, he would not be denied the chance to show respect to others — shaking the hands of his victorious opponents as he excitedly did on the court in dignity. 

Life is such a fleeting thing. The joy and happiness, as well as sorrow and sadness, are simply brief moments within a brief moment. 

The impact left on others and the legacy left behind surpasses an individual life itself, at least in terms of length of time. 

N.C. State is fervent in its regard for its past, as it should be. The Wolfpack Nation presses on when the odds seem slim because it is in its tradition to do so.

When the 1983 national championship team meets for its 30th anniversary, Lorenzo Charles and Jim Valvano, two of the most prominent members of the squad, will not be there.  Unfortunately, there was just not enough time for either of the two famous members of the Cardiac Pack.

Kay Yow and Valvano both faced their respective mortality with courage and a conviction to leave the world a better place. And they both did. Lives will one day be saved simply because of their existence, and that is a very profound impact to have. 

Smith will probably not get the same opportunity that Yow and Valvano had. Neurological disorders create a cloud within the mind. The cloud obscures the vision from within, and the thinking process is hazy.

Smith still gives however, even in his weakened condition. When the people who have had their lives enriched by what he did think about their great hero, a feeling of joy inevitably follows. 

As the two most prominent public universities in the state of North Carolina prepare to face each other Saturday, so much of the focus will be on the current participants in the long and storied rivalry.

But so much of what people have is actually bequeathed from others, and this rivalry is certainly no different.

When Smith is having one of his better moments, it would be wonderful if he could just feel a warm breeze of love — the type of feeling people get when they look into the eyes of someone they care for unconditionally and see the exact same expression staring back. It would be an appropriate way to show gratitude for someone who gave so much to others.

Let the warm regard from each person who has had his or her life improved by Smith be combined to form a sustained feeling. 

Let that feeling gain momentum all over the Triangle and the state. Let it be created right here, right now in Wake County and pick up steam as it reaches the gothic buildings in western Durham that represent a different shade of blue.

As the glorious feeling treks down Highway I-40, the Durham Freeway, and 15-501 towards Chapel Hill, it is certainly alright if those who loved and respected Smith gather to feel the profound love. Let the people who have rooted against or even hated Smith gather to feel it too. 

As a devout Christian, Smith would want to reach the people who do not like him much more than the ones who do. 

When the wave of love hits Smith let it be gentle yet firm. It should come with the knowledge that it is reciprocation for the wonderful life he has lived for others. Like Yow, Valvano and Charles, we wish we could have more but we are beyond grateful for what it is we do have. 

This is a prayer for Smith. Let the rest of his days be filled with good health, unconditional love and genuine happiness.