DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Since Duke University’s Coach Mike Krzyzewski announced his retirement, former players have come out and talked about what the legend means to them.

His kindness has extended far beyond the court over the years, they say.

At the beginning of the season, he had a special surprise for two men who were wrongfully convicted in North Carolina.

“So, these guys, their entire lives incarcerated span the period in which Coach K’s career here at Duke existed,” said Jamie Lau.

Lau is a professor at the Duke University School of Law and supervising attorney of the Duke Law Wrongful Convictions Clinic.

“So, we represent these people who are incarcerated, and we form a pretty good relationship with them because we represent them for years trying to demonstrate their innocence. Well, they are always asking us about Duke basketball,” Lau said smiling.

Lau and the wrongful convictions team, along with the help of former Duke standout and now assistant coach Nolan Smith, made a special tour happen recently.

“It has become something we do. When our clients are free, and they first get to visit us at Duke. We’ll bring them over to meet Nolan and he provides a tour,” Lau explained.

It’s something the Wrongful Convictions Clinic has been doing for several years.

Back in the fall, Henry McCollum and Ronnie Long were invited for a tour.

McCollum was freed in 2015 after he and his brother Leon Brown spent three decades behind bars. Both were wrongfully convicted of killing an 11-year-old North Carolina girl.

Long was released in 2020 after spending more than 40 years in prison for a rape he didn’t commit.

“I got a text in the morning from Nolan saying, ‘looking forward to seeing Long and McCollum. Coach wants to meet them’,” said Lau.

To the surprise of McCollum and Long, they got a chance to meet Coach K and the entire basketball team.

They even spent some time away from the court with the coach.

“He’s come to see how disparately people are treated in the criminal justice system with those two guys. And that was probably the most remarkable moment of the whole time they spent with coach because it was just a small group and Coach K sharing his personal realization,” said Lau.

Lau also said Coach K invited both McCollum and long to the game the next day and gave them care packages full of Duke gear.