Coach K On Importance Of Family, And How His Wife And Three Daughters Keep Him Humble

“Whatever humility I did not already have, they tried to inject into me over and over.”

Coach k

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This year, for the first time in decades, Mike Krzyzewski will watch the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament as a true fan. 

Over the course of his 42 years at Duke, “Coach K,” as he is affectionately known, led the Blue Devils to five National Championships and 12 Final Fours. He retired as the winningest coach in Division I men's basketball last year, giving the 76 year old plenty of time to reflect on his legacy—both personal and professional.

In a recent interview with CNN’s Poppy Harlow, Krzyzewski said that if his tenure as head coach of the Duke Blue Devils taught him anything, it’s that no one person can do everything by themselves.

“If you’re going to have something that lasts for a long time, you better not be a singular pronoun group,” he said. “We’ve had a plural pronoun group, it’s we, us, our.”

When Krzyzewski talks about his family, it’s easy to see how he remains so humble. His wife Mickie and their three daughters have helped to keep his feet planted firmly on the group.

“Whatever humility I did not already have, they tried to inject into me over and over,” Krzyzewski said with a laugh. 

He told Harlow that despite reaching legend status in the world of basketball, he was simply a husband and father when he was home. Basketball, he said, was kept away from the house as much as possible while the girls were young. 

Family has always been at the heart of everything Coach K does. 

Growing up in a Polish-American family, Krzyzewski explained how his parents were worried that he might face discrimination as a child with a Polish last name. They were so worried, his father used the last name “Kross.” 

With that in mind, Krzyzewski knows how much it would have meant to his parents to see their name so well known across the country.

“I was fortunate to be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001,” he told Harlow. “One of the parts of the speech and probably the most emotional for me was, I said, I wish my mom and dad were here tonight—I’m going to start to cry—to see a ‘Krzyzewski’ go into the Hall of Fame.”

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