Anne Donovan: Daughter, Sister, Aunt, Friend and Coach, Dies at 56

Remembering women's basketball trailblazer, Anne Theresa Donovan. Players, fellow colleagues and former organizations mourn the loss of a legend.

Anne Donovan died Wednesday of heart failure. She was 56.

“We are so proud of her accomplishments as a woman’s basketball player and coach, but even more proud of her character, integrity, humility, and kindness,” Donovan’s family said in a statement. “Anne touched so many lives as a daughter, sister, aunt, friend, and coach.”

Donovan was a renowned legend. She was an Olympic gold medalist as a player and coach; she was also a Hall of Famer who excelled at every level.

The standout 6-foot-8 center played her college ball at Old Dominion University in Virginia. She averaged 20 points and 14.5 rebounds over four years with the Lady Monarchs. While at Old Dominion, Donovan had the opportunity to play alongside fellow Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman for one season.

As a player, Donovan led Team USA to two gold medals in 1984 and 1988. She was selected as a player for the 1980 Olympic team while still in college; however, she did not play due to U.S. boycott of the Moscow games.  

Donovan started her coaching career at her alma mater, then made a brief stop at East Carolina before moving onto professional coaching. She had multiple stints coaching in the WNBA with the Indiana Fever, Charlotte Sting (defunct), New York Liberty, Connecticut Sun and the Seattle Storm. Donovan led the Seattle Storm to a WNBA title in 2004 with star players Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird. Her 205 wins as a head coach rank 7th in WNBA history.

For many years, Donovan was an Olympic assistant coach with Team USA. She was named the head coach for the women’s national team for the 2008 Beijing Games, leading the Americans to a gold medal.

Donovan was heavily decorated and a trailblazer in many forms.

"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," WNBA president, Lisa Borders said in a statement. "On behalf of the WNBA, we extend our deepest sympathies to the Donovan family during this difficult time."

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