Former Georgia Tech coach Tasha Butts dies after 2-year battle with breast cancer

LSU's Theresa Plaisance (55) walks past then-LSU assistant coach Tasha Butts as she celebrates the team's win over Kentucky with guard Jeanne Kenney after an NCAA college basketball game in Baton Rouge, La., Feb. 24, 2013. Georgetown women's basketball coach Tasha Butts died Monday, Oct. 23, 2023, after a two-year battle with breast cancer. The 41-year-old coach was diagnosed with advanced stage breast cancer in 2021. She stepped away from coaching Georgetown last month. (AP Photo/Bill Feig, 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. She stepped away from coaching Georgetown last month. Her diagnosis inspired the Tasha Tough campaign which 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 for Tasha’s family, friends, players, teammates and colleagues,” 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. 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.”

She came to Georgetown from Georgia Tech this past 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. While at Georgia Tech in 2021, Butts announced she had been diagnosed with advanced-stage metastatic breast cancer.

“The news of Tasha’s passing is incredibly sad,” commented Georgia Tech’s head coach Nell Fortner. “Tasha was so instrumental to the success of this program. What she did as a member of this coaching staff cannot be overvalued. She was tough – tough on her kids, tough in her expectations, but yet she was soft underneath when players needed her to be there for them, and she was always there for them. We are incredibly sad this day has come. She battled from the day of her diagnosis. We are proud of her fight to the end. We will forever love Tasha. She will forever be missed.”

“Tasha’s passing is a devastating loss. She was extraordinary,” Georgetown president John J. DeGioia said. “Tasha was a person of character, determination, vision, and kindness. She will be deeply missed by our community and by so many people around the country who have been inspired by her life.”

When Butts stepped away last month, Georgetown named assistant Darnell Haney as the 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 with what’s going on with the program. 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. We’d send her film from practice.”

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.

Before coaching at Georgia Tech, Butts was an assistant first at Duquesne, UCLA and LSU. She spent eight seasons with the Tigers.

Butts 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. She was part of four SEC regular-season championship teams at the school.

She 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.

She is survived by her parents Spencer, Sr. and Evelyn, her brother Spencer, Jr. and her nephew Marquis.