The women’s basketball community loss a legendary figure today, as Anne Donovan passed away from sudden heart failure at the age of 56.
Her family has released the following on the abrupt loss of Donovan.
“It is with great sadness that the family of Anne Theresa Donovan announces her sudden passing on Wednesday June 13, 2018 due to heart failure. While it is extremely difficult to express how devastating it is to lose Anne, our family remains so very grateful to have been blessed with such a wonderful human being. Anne touched many lives as a daughter, sister, aunt, friend and coach.”
“Anne was a person with strong faith, courageous spirit, a giving heart and love for everyone,” her family’s statement continued. “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.
“We appreciate your respect for our family’s privacy during this very sad time.”
Donovan was a star at every level of basketball. As a key player at Old dominion, Donovan helped the Lady Monarchs win the national championship in her first season. Also in her tenure with Old Dominion, Donovan was honored as National player of the year in 1983, a three-time All-American, led the country in rebound in 1982 and held school records in points scored (2,719), rebounds 1,976), and blocks (801).
Flourishing as an impactful center, Donovan was selected to the play for the U.S Olympic team three times where she helped bring home the gold medal in 1984 and 1988. Later in 2008, she coached the team to gold. After graduating, she went on to play semi professionally in Japan (1983-1988) and Italy (1988-1989).
From 1989-1995, she served as an assistant coach at Old Dominion before she took over the head coaching position at East Carolina State for three seasons. Seton Hall was also coached by Donovan back in the day.
Her coaching stint didn’t stop at the collegiate level though, as she spent time on the sidelines in the WNBA with Connecticut, Charlotte, New York, Indiana, and Seattle Storm (WNBA champs in 2004).
New York released the following on Donovan passing:
“The New York Liberty is deeply saddened by the passing of one of the greatest figures in the history of women’s basketball, Anne Donovan. Anne was a true pioneer in our sport, and her influence and leadership had a tremendous impact on the growth of women’s basketball and the WNBA. We join the entire women’s basketball community in celebrating her life and extraordinary legacy, and send our thoughts and prayers to her family during this time.”
Seattle’s co-owner Lisa Brummel also gave her condolences:
“Anne Donovan will always be remembered as a championship coach and a championship person. Her dedication, passion and winning spirit set the tone for Storm Basketball. We are deeply saddened by her passing and share our heartfelt condolences with her family.”
Live on ESPN2 during the Connecticut and Washington game, Lisa Leslie, Rebecca Lobo, and LaChina Robinson all spoke of the impact Donovan had as not only changing the game because of the type of post player she was but also as a coach. Leslie specifically spoke on learning from Donovan when she was on the Olympic team.
She also is in multiple Hall of Fames: the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (1995), Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame (1999) and the FIBA Hall of Fame (2015).
She was a pioneer of the game who will be missed for all she gave to the game as a player, coach, and individual who gave back to the community.
Lisa Borders, the president of the WNBA also voiced the impact Donovan had on the game
“A decorated player and trailblazing coach, Anne Donovan played a seminal role in the growth of women’s basketball. For all she accomplished in college, the WNBA and on the international stage during her Hall of Fame career, Anne will also be remembered as a valued mentor and dear friend to so many in the game. On behalf of the WNBA, we extend our deepest sympathies to the Donovan family during this difficult time.”