Anne Donovan, Hall of Famer and Olympic gold medalist, dies at 56

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.

The 6-foot-8 Donovan, a native of Ridgewood, New Jersey, was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995.

She 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.

"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.

"We appreciate your respect for our family's privacy during this very sad time."