A basketball legend is gone. Anne Donovan, the only woman to have played for both a national women’s college title and coached a team to a professional title, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 56.
Anne Donovan, who won Olympic gold as a player and a coach, died suddenly Wednesday due to heart failure. She was 56. "Our family remains so very grateful to have been blessed with such a wonderful human being,” Donovan’s family said. https://t.co/hr3pDDX4dy
— ESPN Women's Hoops (@ESPN_WomenHoop) June 13, 2018
Donovan played her college basketball at Old Dominion, where she won a national championship in 1980 and was named the Naismith College Player of the Year in 1983. In ’84 and ’88, Donovan was a member of the gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic women’s basketball teams.
Her coaching career began in 1989 as an assistant with Old Dominion. After a few college stints, she moved to the WNBA, where as the head coach in 2004 she led the Seattle Storm to a WNBA championship.
Donovan’s time in Seattle ended in 2007, but she would return to coaching with the New York Liberty from 2009-10, Seton Hall University from 2010-2013, and then back to the WNBA with the Connecticut Sun from 2013-2015.
“Anne was a person with strong faith, courageous spirit, a giving heart and love for everyone,” Donovan’s family said in its statement. “We are so proud of her accomplishments as a women’s basketball player and coach, but even more proud of her character, integrity, humility and kindness.”
Donovan received basketball’s highest honor in 1995 when she was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. She was also inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 1996, and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999.
After the news became public, many in the sports world took to social media to express their condolences on the death of the basketball legend.
Anne Donovan had an enormous impact on American sports. She was national champion college player, an Olympic gold medalist as a player and coach, and a WNBA champion as a coach. She touched countless lives and greatly moved women's basketball forward.
— Mechelle Voepel (@MechelleV) June 13, 2018
Tonight, two great women’s basketball teams – filled with ridiculously talented players – put on an unbelievable show for almost 6k fans. And they earned a paycheck for it. Pioneers like Anne Donovan are who have to thank for where we are today. A true legend. #RIP
— Amber Cox (@MoheganMaven) June 14, 2018
I had the honor of coaching Anne Donovan on the 1988 Olympic Team. I’ll never forget how excited she was when she blocked Uljana Semjonova’s shot (7’2” Center for USSR) Best play & defining moment of the Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea! RIP Anne! https://t.co/BgctLIpJYV
— Sylvia R. Hatchell (@UNCWBBCoach) June 14, 2018
I’m in utter shock and disbelief right now. My heart literally has hit the floor with an overwhelmingly instant feeling of grief. Anne Donovan was #Legendary in so many ways. Anne was my Olympic coach and will never be forgotten. #sad? #RipAnne https://t.co/LCOtGStVui
— Delisha Milton-Jones (@DelishaMJones) June 14, 2018
Heartbroken to learn about the passing of Anne Donovan, a role model & friend to me and many in the game. Thoughts and prayers with her family. Saw Anne Saturday in Knoxville with her sister Mary and her nephew. Very sad news.
— Debbie Antonelli (@debbieantonelli) June 14, 2018
Wow. I’m at a loss for words. Anne Donovan took a chance by drafting me and was my coach in Connecticut. It feels like we were just at the All-star game in Seattle talking about my basketball career. Such sad news today. Condolences to her family. https://t.co/rYDxhDbFVV
— Elizabeth Williams (@E_Williams_1) June 14, 2018
Words can't express how heavy my heart is right now. Literally just saw Anne this weekend… literally just talked about her coming to Indy so we can hit up @teasmeindy… literally just talked about how good we both looked at the @wbhof ceremony… ?? I will always be thankful for the impact she had on me, not only as a player, but more importantly as a person. Always taking time to pull me to the side to "catch up" on life and just to talk about any and everything. Im literally in shock ??? We're going to miss you Anne! Rest in peace… Love you always❤!! #GoneTooSoon #PrayersUp???? #RIPAnne #Angel #IMPACT #Champion #Olympian #Inspire #SoBlessed
Join us in praying for the Donovan family.
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