The excitement that may have preceded two WNBA games on Wednesday June 13 – including a nationally televised contest on ESPN2 between the Washington Mystics and Connecticut Sun – was muted by some sad news.
Anne Donovan, a legendary figure within the realm of women’s basketball, had died at the age of 56 due to heart failure.
Donovan was the head coach of the Seattle Storm when they won the 2004 WNBA championship and also coached the 2008 United States Basketball Women’s National Team to a gold medal in Beijing.
She also won a pair of gold medals as a player and is a member of two Halls of Fame – the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame which she was inducted into in 1995 and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, which she joined in 1999. One of the gold medals was with the 1984 national team who claimed the Games’ top prize at the Olympics in Los Angeles.
Her coaching career also included stints with the Indiana Fever, Charlotte Sting, Connecticut Sun, and New York Liberty. Collegiately, she played at Old Dominion where she also spent time as an assistant coach.
Donovan’s name is also notable in New Jersey basketball circles as she is the all-time leading scorer in Bergen County.
Lisa Leslie shares her remembrances of basketball legend Anne Donovan, who died Wednesday at age 56. pic.twitter.com/wKrk1fd0mm
— espnW (@espnW) June 14, 2018
WNBA President Lisa Borders released the following statement regarding the passing of Anne Donovan: pic.twitter.com/04gi5hVXIA
— WNBA (@WNBA) June 14, 2018
So sad to learn of the sudden passing of #AnneDonovan at the young age of 56. She was such a gentle giant & a true legend in women's basketball…a champion on every level & a mentor to many. We’re thinking of her family and friends and we’ll have more coming up this morn on @GMA
— Robin Roberts (@RobinRoberts) June 14, 2018
Celebrating the life of Anne Donovan — the Women's Basketball legend was 56. Our thoughts are with her family and all affected by her passing. pic.twitter.com/Ou2sRRKxyG
— Good Morning America (@GMA) June 14, 2018
The New York Liberty has issued the following statement regarding the passing of former head coach and women's basketball pioneer Anne Donovan: pic.twitter.com/u56uzfO1lk
— New York Liberty (@nyliberty) June 14, 2018
— Howard Megdal (@howardmegdal) June 14, 2018
Prayers up for Anne Donovan's family. Words can't express what she meant to our game! You will be missed!#RIP
— Sheryl Swoopes (@sswoopes22) 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
RIP Anne Donovan. She was a trailblazer and helped revolutionize the women’s game. Olympic gold as a player and coach. Hall of Famer. NJ Native. What a basketball player. What a coach. What a person. She will be missed.
— Bruce Beck (@BruceBeck4NY) June 14, 2018
USA Basketball mourns the passing of Anne Donovan. As much as we remember her accomplishments in the game and contributions to USA Basketball, we mourn an incredible friend who will be greatly missed. pic.twitter.com/5ubYnmofBh
— USA Basketball (@usabasketball) June 14, 2018
Thank you for believing in me & bringing me to a place that has become my home. You gave me an opportunity to be myself + be a leader in Connecticut, and for that I’ll forever be grateful. My thoughts and prayers are with your loved ones. R.I.P. Coach Anne Donovan 🙏🏾❤️😔 pic.twitter.com/fhecX2nVk9
— Jasmine Thomas (@jaszthomas) June 14, 2018
This is incredibly sad. Donovan was a true pioneer for women's sports and among the greatest N.J. athletes of all time. https://t.co/5qPWw9YuqA
— Steve Politi (@StevePoliti) June 14, 2018
You never know when you will see someone for the last time. I am grateful to have shared a few laughs and get caught up with Anne Donovan this past weekend in Knoxville. She was one of the most decent and caring human beings I have ever known. Truly special. She touched so many.
— Kelly Krauskopf (@FeverPrez) June 14, 2018
— Nancy Lieberman (@NancyLieberman) June 14, 2018
Thank you, Coach. pic.twitter.com/YWTzM9hhwV
— Seattle Storm (@seattlestorm) June 14, 2018