Anne Donovan, a legendary figure in women’s basketball who won Olympic gold as a player and as a coach for the United States, died Wednesday of heart failure. She was 56.
“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,” Donovan’s family said in a statement.
“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. 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, a native of Ridgewood, New Jersey, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995 and also was part of the inaugural class of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999. She was inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2015.
A 6-foot-8 center, Donovan played collegiately for Old Dominion from 1979 to 1983, where she averaged 20 points and 14.5 rebounds and helped the Lady Monarchs win the 1980 AIAW national championship.
Donovan made the 1980 U.S. Olympic team that did not compete because of the boycott of the Moscow Games. She then helped lead the Americans to gold in the 1984 and 1988 Olympics.
After she retired as a player, Donovan became a coach, first as an assistant at her alma mater and then as head coach at East Carolina.
She coached in the WNBA for several years, winning a league championship with the Seattle Storm in 2004.
Donovan also led the U.S. Olympic team as head coach to the 2008 gold medal in the Beijing Games.
Lisa Brummel, co-owner of the Storm, said Donovan would be remembered as “a championship coach and a championship person.”
“Her dedication, passion and winning spirit set the tone for Storm Basketball,” Brummel said in a statement. “We are deeply saddened by her passing and share our heartfelt condolences with her family.”