June 14--Anne Donovan, a basketball Hall of Famer who won a national title as a player at Old Dominion, two Olympic gold medals in the 1980s and coached the U.S. women's team to gold in 2008, 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," the Donovan 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," 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."
Donovan, who grew up in New Jersey, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995. Four years later, she was honored as part of the inaugural class of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. In 2015, Donovan was inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame.
Standing at 6-foot-8, Donovan thrived as a center during her playing days. Following an impressive career at Old Dominion, she was part of three Olympic teams in the 1980s, including two gold-medal-winning squads in 1984 and 1988.
She also played professionally in Italy and Japan.
Upon retiring, Donovan when back to her alma mater to be an assistant coach before taking the helm of the women's team at East Carolina Universtiy from 1995-1998.
In 2003, she became the second-ever coach of the WNBA's Seattle Storm. One year later, Donovan became the youngest person (at age 42) and the first female coach to win a WNBA championship. It was the city of Seattle's first sports championship in nearly three decades.
Donovan went on to coach the Indiana Fever, Charlotte Sting and New York Liberty.
From 2010-2013, the New Jersey-native coached the women's team at Seton Hall University.
She left to head back to the WNBA and coach the Connecticut Sun until 2015, when she resigned.
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