Coach Dies After 2-Year Battle With Cancer

Georgetown's Tasha Butts inspired a fund to raise money for needy patients
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 23, 2023 4:43 PM CDT
Coach Dies After 2-Year Battle With Cancer
Tennessee senior guard Tasha Butts listens to a question during a news conference in Norman, Okla., in this 2004 photo.   (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

Georgetown women's basketball coach Tasha Butts died Monday after a two-year battle with breast cancer, the school's athletic director said. The 41-year-old coach was diagnosed with advanced stage breast cancer in 2021, per the AP, and she stepped away from coaching Georgetown last month. Her diagnosis inspired the Tasha Tough campaign that has brought awareness and raised money to bring quality care to women who can't afford it through the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.

"I am heartbroken," said Georgetown athletic director Lee Reed. "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." Butts came to Georgetown from Georgia Tech in April after a long coaching and professional WNBA career. She joined the Georgia Tech women's basketball staff as an assistant coach in April 2019, and was promoted to associate head coach two years later. When Butts stepped away from her Georgetown duties last month, the school named assistant Darnell Haney as interim head coach. He said last week that he had been in constant contact with Butts while she was undergoing treatment.

"We kept her up to date ... shoot her a text on how practice went, how things are going in the conference," he said. "Do stuff to make her smile and keep her mind off what was she was going through." Teams across the country would post videos on social media every Tuesday during October to try and lift Butts' spirits and remind her she wasn't alone in the fight against cancer. Butts had a brief career in the WNBA after getting chosen 20th by the Minnesota Lynx in the 2004 draft. She played for Minnesota, Charlotte, and Houston. Butts also starred at Tennessee from 2000-04, playing for Hall of Fame coach Pat Summitt. The Lady Vols went 124-17 with her playing and advanced to the NCAA championship game in 2003 and '04.

(More women's college basketball stories.)

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