It’s a sad day for the sport of basketball. Legendary North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith has died. For over a decade, Smith was the winningest head coach in NCAA basketball history and to this day is considered among the very best as his name hangs amongst the pantheon of legends like John Wooden, Red Auerbach and others.

The University of North Carolina announced the loss of Smith in a statement released earlier today.

“Coach Dean Smith passed away peacefully the evening of February 7th at his home in Chapel Hill, and surrounded by his wife and five children. We are grateful for all the thoughts and prayers, and appreciate the continued respect for our privacy as arrangements are made available to the public. Thank you.”

The Hall of Fame coach led the North Carolina Tarheels for 36 seasons. During that span, he won 13 ACC tournaments, made 11 Final Four appearances and won two national championships. When he retired at the age of 66, he led the NCAA in wins with 879. He currently ranks fourth all-time behind Mike Kryzewski (1,003), Jim Boheim (963) and Bob Knight (902).

“I am incredibly saddened to hear of the passing of Coach Dean Smith, “ said Kryzewski in a statement released by Duke University. “We have lost a man who cannot be replaced. He was one of a kind and the sport of basketball lost one of its true pillars. Dean possessed one of the greatest basketball minds, and was a magnificent teacher and tactician. While building an elite program at North Carolina, he was clearly ahead of his time in dealing with social issues. However, his greatest gift was his unique ability to teach what it takes to become a good man. That was easy for him to do because he was a great man himself. All of his players benefited greatly from his basketball teachings, but even more from his ability to help mold men of integrity, honor and purpose. Those teaching, specifically, will live forever in those he touched. We offer our deepest sympathies – and gratitude for sharing his incredible life with us for so long – to Linnea, his children and the entire North Carolina family.”

Smith’s career began at Kansas University where he played for another Hall of Fame coach in Phog Allen. After graduating, Smith became an assistant with Kansas before taking the same position at North Carolina. After current head coach Frank McGuire resigned in 1961, Smith became the head coach and remained with the team until 1997. In his tenure at UNC, Smith won what is known as the Triple Crown in basketball: the NCAA tournament, the NIT tournament and the Olympics.

Smith helped coach and raise many other Hall of Fame players and coaches. Legendary head coach Larry Brown was a Smith assistant, as was current UNC head coach Roy Williams. But there may not be a more famous student of Smith’s than Michael Jordan, who is widely considered the greatest to play the game of basketball, Jordan played for Smith from 1981 – 1984 and was devastated upon hearing the news.

“Other than my parents, no one had a bigger influence on my life than Coach Smith,” said Jordan in a statement. “He was more than a coach – he was my mentor, teacher, my second father. Coach was always there for me whenever I needed him and I loved him for it. In teaching me the game of basketball, he taught me about life. My heart goes out to Linnea and their kids. We’ve lost a great man who had an incredible impact on his players, his staff and the entire UNC family.”

Smith is survived by his wife, Linnea, and their daughters Kristen and Kelly. Smith also had two daughters Sharon and Sandy, and a son Scott from a previous marriage. In addition to losing a talent basketball coach, the world has lost a great man and one of it’s greatest teachers.