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People close to the coach say his famous memory is slipping. On some days he doesn't recognize people he has known for years.
"That's really the painful thing to absorb when you're around him," said Woody Durham, the radio voice of the Tar Heels since 1971. "Because his mind for so many years, not only in basketball but in remembering names and faces from everyday life, was like a steel trap. Now to see him losing that capability is truly sad."
Those near the UNC program say Smith has good days and bad days. On the good days, he is his cheerful, unassuming self, friendly and engaging and surprising people with his memory of little details about their lives.
But on the bad days, they say, Smith has great difficulty even remembering people he has worked with and around for years.