Tasha Butts had everything going for her. She’d ascended to the pinnacle of her coaching career after being named the head coach for women’s basketball at Georgetown last April. But in 2021, she was diagnosed with advanced-stage metastatic breast cancer. On Oct. 23, the university announced that Butts, 41, died Oct. 22.
“I am heartbroken for Tasha’s family, friends, players, teammates, and colleagues,” Lee Reed, Georgetown’s director of intercollegiate athletics, said in a statement. “When I met Tasha, I knew she was a winner on the court and an incredible person whose drive, passion, and determination was second to none. She exhibited these qualities both as a leader and in her fight against breast cancer. This is a difficult time for the entire Georgetown community, and we will come together to honor her memory.”
Butts was drafted by the Minnesota Lynx in 2004 and played briefly in the WNBA for the Charlotte Sting and Houston Comets. She played for the legendary Pat Summitt at Tennessee, when they were a basketball powerhouse, appearing in four SEC championship games and two national title games in 2003 and 2004.
In her coaching career, Butts made stops at Duquesne and UCLA before spending eight years at Louisiana State University.
The Lady Tigers’ current coach, Kim Mulkey, also issued a statement.
“Tasha was a great player and went on to have a successful career as a coach too,” Mulkey said, per AP. “More importantly, she had an impact on so many lives throughout her lifetime. We are sad to lose her at such a young age.”
After LSU, Butts went to Georgia Tech in 2019 quickly ascending to associate head coach. She was named Georgetown’s head coach in April. When she was hired, Butts said that her cancer treatment wouldn’t get in the way of her coaching. And at first, it didn’t.
But her health declined, and she stepped back from coaching in September but continued to call associated head coach Darnell Haney for practice reports. Haney stepped up in her absence and will continue as interim coach when the team begins their season.
“I had no idea how close it was,” Haney told the Athletic. “I knew she’d be gone for a part of the season, but no. It doesn’t matter. Nothing prepares you for it, anyway.”
Her diagnosis led to the social media campaign #TashaTough, which raised money for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. Kay Yow helps low-income women with treatment and helps spread awareness of breast cancer, which Black women are less likely to get but are more likely to die from.
A Milledgeville, Georgia, native, Butts is survived by her father and mother, Spencer Sr., and Evelyn Butts, her brother Spencer, Jr., and her nephew Marquis.
“I’m sure everybody here has stories about Tasha,” Georgia Tech coach Nell Fortner told the Post at the ACC women’s basketball media day earlier this week. “Everybody has great memories of her. Just a fantastic human being and, hard worker, and we’re going to miss her, but we know she’s going to be with us in spirit. She fought the good fight, and she’s resting now, and we’re happy for her in that regard, that she’s no longer hurting.”
Georgetown Women’s Basketball Coach Tasha Butts Dies After Breast Cancer Battle was originally published on cassiuslife.com
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