Olympic gold medal winning basketball player and coach Anne Donovan passed away at 56 years of age due to a heart failure Wednesday.

"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. Anne was a person with strong faith, courageous spirit, a giving heart and love for everyone. 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."

Standing at 6 ft 8, Donovan was one of the most pursued female players heading into college as she received more than 250 offers before deciding on Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.

In a four-year spell until 1983, she led them to the 1980 Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women basketball championship, averaging 20 points and 14.5 rebounds per game during her college career.

Donovan also made the Olympics team for the United States in 1980 but did not compete due to the boycott of the Moscow games. However, she would go on to win two gold medals when she helped her nation win the Olympics in 1984 and 1988.

Due to the lack of professional opportunities for female basketball players in the eighties, Donovan mostly plied her trade abroad in Japan and Italy before retiring and eventually going into coaching where she found even more success.

She would first return to Old Dominion as an assistant coach before a stint as head coach at East Carolina. The Ridgewood, New Jersey, native would then go on to coach professionally in the WNBA, leading the Charlotte Sting to the 2001 Finals before a spell with the Seattle Storm from 2003 to 2007, notably helping them win a championship in 2004.

Donovan also coached the New York Liberty, Seton Hall and the Connecticut Sun.

"Anne Donovan will always be remembered as a championship coach and a championship person," the Storm said in a statement. "Her dedication, passion and winning spirit set the tone for Storm Basketball. We are deeply saddened by her passing and share our heartfelt condolences with her family."

Anne Donovan Anne Donovan was a legendary figure in women's basketball. Here, Donovan of the United States coaches against China during their women's basketball preliminary game on Day 3 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games at the Wukesong Indoor Stadium in China, Aug. 11, 2008. Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Donovan would only further add to her accolades when she coached the United States women's basketball team in the Olympics, leading them to victory at the Beijing games in 2008.

"For all she accomplished in college, the WNBA and on the international stage during her Hall of Fame career, Anne will also be remembered as a valued mentor and dear friend to so many in the game," WNBA president Lisa Borders said in a statement. "On behalf of the WNBA, we extend our deepest sympathies to the Donovan family during this difficult time."

A true legend of the sport, Donovan was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995 as well as the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2015 while she was also a part of the inaugural class of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999.

The basketball community reacted on social media following news of her sudden death.