The Importance of Leaving a Legacy: A Lesson from the Life of Coach Dean Smith

The Monday feature of the Worldly Saints blog focuses on a story from the sports world – current or historic. The point is to recognize athletes who are using their sports and athletic abilities to further the kingdom of God or to show how some athletes are wasting their days by not giving God the glory.


The passing of Dean Smith over the weekend reminded me of one word: legacy. You are going to have a difficult time finding a coach at any level who left more of a mark on their sport than Coach Smith. Here is just a sampling:

  • His coaching tree includes Larry Brown, Hubert Davis, Billy Cunningham, Matt Doherty, Eddie Fogler, Dave Hanners, George Karl, Mitch Kupchak, Doug Moe, Buzz Peterson, Pat Sullivan and Roy Williams.
  • In 36 years of coaching, he accumulated 879 total wins – 4th best all-time.
  • He coached his teams to a 77.6% winning percentage – making him 9th best all-time.
  • He won 2 National Championships (1982, 1993) and 11 Final Fours.
  • Some of the players he coached includes Michael Jordan, Larry Brown, James worthy, Bob McAdoo, Keny Smith, Jerry Stackhouse, Vince Cater and Rasheed Wallace.
  • He also coached Team USA to a gold medal in the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.

The accomplishments and legacy of this coach could go on and on.

When men like this die, we look at the mark they left in this world. For Coach Smith, it was the legacy he left in basketball.

Smith DeanHow important is a legacy to you? A legacy, according to Webster’s Dictionary, could be defined as “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor from the past.”[1] We will all most likely be in the position one day – if you haven’t already – of handing something down.

If you are looking for a legacy to strive for, consider Psalm 128 – “Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways! You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord The Lord bless you from Zion! May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life! May you see your children’s children! Peace be upon Israel!”

Is that what you are teaching your children and grandchildren and nephews and nieces by your example in the home? Are you making any and every sacrifice in your life in order to prioritize obedience to Him? Are you sharing those decisions with your family, explaining to them why you chose to fear God instead of something else? What kind of legacy are you leaving for your children and grandchildren? How about this legacy: fear the Lord!







[1] Sourced from


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