Dejan Milojević, an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors, died on Wednesday. He was only 46 years old.
Milojević was rushed to the hospital on Tuesday after suffering a heart attack during the team’s private dinner in Salt Lake City ahead of a matchup with the Utah Jazz. “Despite lifesaving efforts,” the team said in a statement, Milojević passed away Wednesday morning.
The Warriors did not release any other details about the incident.
“We are absolutely devastated by Dejan’s sudden passing,” said Warriors head coach Steve Kerr.
“This is a shocking and tragic blow for everyone associated with the Warriors and an incredibly difficult time for his family, friends, and all of us who had the incredible pleasure to work with him,” he added. “In addition to being a terrific basketball coach, Dejan was one of the most positive and beautiful human beings I have ever known, someone who brought joy and light to every single day with his passion and energy.”
Milojević was in the midst of his third season coaching for the Warriors.
As a former professional player himself — a European all-star who won three consecutive Adriatic MVPs — Milojević was an “old-school power forward,” according to the Athletic, who became known as a “big man guru” when he transitioned to coaching. Milojević served as a mentor to some of the NBA’s biggest stars, including two-time MVP Nikola Jokić, a center for the Denver Nuggets.
Milojević’s sudden death triggered shock across the basketball world. Milojević is remembered not only as a basketball great but as an even better man.
“He was a role model as a player, as a man, as a husband, as a coach — somebody that I really admired and have a lot of respect for,” said Toronto Raptors head coach Darko Rajaković. “Unfortunately, last night, his heart stopped working and he left his wife and two kids behind and a big, big legacy.”
Sacramento Kings head coach Mike Brown explained, “Not only was he an extremely talented coach, he was an even better person.”
Milojević leaves behind his wife, Natasa, and two children, Nikola and Masa.