PARAMUS, N.J. (AP) — Anne Donovan was once remembered as a gradual, sort, patriotic and dependable lady at a memorial service Saturday.

The 56-year-old Basketball Hall of Famer died on June 13 of middle failure and a couple of hundred other people, together with former gamers, coaches, referees and buddies, crammed the Paramus Catholic High School auditorium the place she starred within the past due 1970s.

Dawn Staley, who performed for Donovan with the Charlotte Sting and coached together with her at USA Basketball, gave a touching speech. South Carolina’s trainer had the target market guffawing when she recalled how the 6-foot-Eight Donovan earned the nickname “Big Sexy” through the way in which she was once dressed sooner than one sport. Staley, who’s the present U.S. ladies’s nationwide workforce trainer, then broke down at the top of her communicate when remembering how Donovan would steadily textual content her after many wins or milestones.

“Every single time,” Staley mentioned, choking again tears. “Anne was always there. Every single big victory, small victory, there was a text message. I appreciated them, but now I appreciate them a lot more.”

Staley mentioned Donovan’s identify will have simply been Grace.

“She was generous, polite, she was the definition of grace,” she mentioned.

Donovan’s highschool trainer Rose Marie Battaglia was once within the target market along side ladies’s basketball greats that incorporated Nancy Lieberman, Carol Blazejowksi, Swin Cash and Teresa Weatherspoon. Former coaches Lin Dunn, Carol Ross and Sylvia Hatchell had been additionally in attendance. Battaglia had simply noticed Donovan previous in June when the longtime New Jersey trainer was once enshrined within the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

“I was so happy that we got to have everyone together at the Hall of Fame before Anne passed away,” Battaglia mentioned.

Donovan’s love of USA Basketball was once obtrusive right through the hour-long service through the tales advised through her friends and family, in addition to the taking part in of the nationwide anthem sooner than the tributes started. She was once a member of 3 Olympic groups as a participant. The 1980 workforce didn’t cross to Russia as a result of of a boycott. The Americans received the gold in 1984 and ’88, and he or she coached the profitable 2008 workforce.

“Anne loved her family, her friends and USA basketball in that order,” mentioned former USA Basketball assistant trainer Gail Goestenkors, who labored with Donovan at two Olympics.

Outside the varsity cafeteria, the place a reception was once held after the rite, had been tables arrange with awards that Donovan had received right through her profession, together with the 1983 Naismith Player of the Year Award and Olympic memorabilia from her time as each a participant and trainer.

Former New York Liberty and Connecticut Sun teacher Lisa White recalled how other people would at all times come as much as Donovan asking if she performed basketball. Always humble, Donovan would merely solution, “a little bit.”

Her brother John mentioned the circle of relatives took his sister’s ashes to a North Carolina seashore, close to the place Anne lived, for one ultimate glad hour previous this week.

The rite concluded with a tribute video of Donovan , appearing photos of her as a participant in highschool, school and in addition as a USA Basketball and WNBA trainer.

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