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Women’s basketball icon, Anne Donovan, died yesterday at 56

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Olympic Gold Medalist and Hall of Famer Anne Donovan passed away on Wednesday from heart failure. Donovan was the first woman to coach a WNBA Championship team — the Seattle Storm in 2004.

Olympics Previews - Day -1
Basketball icon Anne Donovan, serving as head coach of the USA Basketball Women’s National Team, speaking at a press conference on August 7, 2008 ahead of the Olympic Games in Beijing.
Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The women’s basketball world has lost an icon in Anne Donovan, who died yesterday at 56. Donovan, who stood 6-foot-8, was a two-time Olympic gold medalist and Hall of Famer enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and the FIBA Hall of Fame.

In the 1970’s, Donovan was one of the highest recruited female basketball players from out of Paramus Catholic High School in New Jersey. Donovan attended the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame this past weekend in celebration of her Paramus Catholic High School coach, Dr. Rose Marie Battaglia, who was inducted with the 2018 class.

Donovan accepted a scholarship from Old Dominion University where she played with women’s basketball star Nancy Lieberman. “She was an icon as a human being,“ former teammate and friend, Lieberman, said about Donovan’s untimely passing.

After her playing career, Donovan embarked on a successful coaching career that started as an assistant coach at her alma mater, ODU. She continued on as a head coach for East Carolina and Seton Hall at the collegiate level, the now defunct Philadelphia Rage and for several years in the WNBA with the Indiana Fever, Charlotte Sting, Seattle Storm, New York Liberty and Connecticut Sun.

Donovan was the first woman to coach a WNBA Championship team with the Seattle Storm in 2004. She retired from coaching in 2015.