A North Carolina State University student has shown that a heated college basketball rivalry doesn’t have to interfere with admiration for the opposing side after he penned the viral “A Prayer For Dean Smith” in the school newspaper.

“A Prayer For Dean Smith,” written by Rob McLamb, a staff writer for the NC State student newspaper Technician, pays tribute to the classy former North Carolina Tar Heels coach, who is battling memory problems.

“This is a prayer for Dean Smith,” McLamb wrote in an article that has gone viral in advance of Saturday’s Tar Heels-Wolfpack game. “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.”

The NC State student urged fans on both sides to take time to put the rivalry aside, especially Wolfpack fans, to pray for Smith’s health.

“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,” McLamb wrote. “As a devout Christian, Smith would want to reach the people who do not like him much more than the ones who do. …This is a prayer for Smith. Let the rest of his days be filled with good health, unconditional love and genuine happiness.”

On Smith’s best days, he has no memory issues. But on his worst, the former North Carolina coach has difficulty remembering the names of close friends.

North Carolina takes on NC State at 7 p.m. Saturday at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C.

While the Tar Heels have been a perennial college basketball powerhouse and rose to prominence under Smith – North Carolina’s arena is named after Smith and is better known as the “Dean Dome” – the Wolfpack come into the game as the higher ranked team. NC State is No. 18 in the nation while North Carolina is unranked.

But those rankings have diminished importance in a rivalry game, even though the Tar Heels have won 13 straight games over the Wolfpack dating back to 2007.