Dejan Milojevic sadly died at the age of 46 on January 17. The Golden State Warriors coach and former basketball player suffered a fatal heart attack during a team dinner in Salt Lake City, Utah on the night before his death and was hospitalized, the team announced. The Warriors were scheduled to play Utah Jazz on Wednesday night, but NBA postponed the game.
“We are absolutely devastated by Dejan’s sudden passing,” coach Steve Kerr said in a statement released by the team via ESPN. “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.”
We are absolutely devastated by Dejan Milojević’s sudden passing.
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.
We grieve… pic.twitter.com/0wExlLlu5z
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) January 17, 2024
“The NBA mourns the sudden passing of Golden State assistant coach Dejan Milojević, a beloved colleague and dear friend to so many in the global basketball community,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver also said. “In addition to winning the 2022 NBA championship in his first season with the Warriors and mentoring some of the best players in the world, Dejan had a decorated international playing career and was a distinguished head coach in his native Serbia.”
As Warriors team and crew members and fans mourn Dejan’s passing, get to know more about the legacy he left behind below.
Dejan Milojevic Was a Former Star Player in Serbia
Before becoming a beloved coach, he played basketball for 14 years in his home country of Serbia as well as in Spain, Montenegro, and Turkey. He was named the MVP of the Adriatic League three times (2004-06).
He started playing as a power forward from 1994 until 2009, and appeared for the FR Yugoslavia / Serbia and Montenegro league teams Beovuk, FMP, Budućnost, and Partizan, as well as for Pamesa Valencia in Spain, and Galatasaray in Turkey. He also played on the Serbia and Montenegro national team and won EuroBasket gold in 2001.
Dejan Milojevic Became a Coach After Retiring
Dejan officially retired as a professional basketball player in 2009 and three years later, he became a coach for Mega Basket of the Adriatic Basketball Association (ABA). While there, he coached future NBA All-Star and NBA MVP Nikola Jokić. In the 2015–16 season, he coached Mega as they received their first trophy, the Serbian Cup, as well as their first ABA League finals appearance. In 2021, he also won Montenegrin League and Montenegrin Cup titles with Budućnost.
Dejan also assisted head coach Igor Kokoskov with the Serbian national team from December 2019 until September 2021. In August 2021, he was hired as the assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors and reportedly signed a “multiyear deal.” He worked alongside head coach Steve Kerr and his staff up until his death in January 2024.
He Started Playing Basketball When He Was 13
Dejan signed up for the KK Tašmajdan youth categories in 1990 through a friend who had already been playing there. He then quickly dominated over his age group and scored 141 points in a 202–52 cadet (under-16) win versus OKK Beograd under-16 team in 1991, which is still a standing record.
Dejan Milojevic Was Married With Kids
Although he kept his personal life fairly private, Dejan is survived by his wife, Natasa, and their children, Nikola and Masa. Fellow Warriors coach Steve mentioned them when making a statement about Dejan’s death.
“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. We grieve with and for his wife, Natasa, and their children, Nikola and Masa. Their loss is unfathomable,” he said.
He Was Loved by Many
Raptors head coach Darko Rajakovic on the passing of his friend, Golden State assistant coach Dejan Milojevic:
“Really tough day for the NBA community. I knew Dejan since I was a teenager. He was a role model as player, as a man, as a husband as a coach.” pic.twitter.com/wLS2mmY4li
— Toronto Star Sports (@StarSports) January 17, 2024
After his death was announced, many family, friends, and former and current colleagues took to social media to express their sadness and show appreciation. The Spanish club Valencia, where he spent two seasons, was among them. “The Club wants to send his family a lot of encouragement and strength in these difficult times, and convey all our support to them,” their statement read.
Dylan Ennis, an international pro who was once coached by Dejan, wrote, “You were not only a basketball master, you were an amazing human being. You will be missed by so many.”
Toronto Raptors head coach Darko Rajakovic also spoke out about Dejan’s death during a press conference, which can be seen above. “Really tough day for the NBA community. I knew Dejan since I was a teenager. He was a role model as player, as a man, as a husband as a coach,” he said.