Gregg Popovich’s wife, Erin Popovich, has passed away. According to TNT, Erin leaves behind two children and two grandchildren in addition to her husband, Gregg. The full details of Erin’s death have not been released, but she had been battling an undisclosed illness for sometime.
“Erin Popovich, wife of San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich, died today, Spurs said in a release. They were married four decades. She had been ill over an extended period,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted.
With deep regret the San Antonio Spurs announce that Erin Popovich, wife of Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, passed away earlier today. Erin and Gregg were married for four decades and were blessed with two children and two grandchildren. We mourn the loss of Erin. She was a strong, wonderful, kind, intelligent woman who provided love, support and humor to all of us.
Learn more about Gregg’s family.
1. Gregg & His Wife Have 2 Children, Mickey & Jill
Gregg has done his best to shield his family from the spotlight. Erin leaves behind two children and two grandchildren, but little is known about Gregg’s immediate family aside from a handful of anecdotes the coach has shared. In an interview with ESPN’s Dan LeBatard, the Spurs coach admitted his wife did not approve of how he interacted with the media (via Yahoo Sports).
It [his media interviews] entertains everybody but my wife. When I get home and she says ‘geez why are you so mean? You’re a jerk, people hate you.’ I go I’m sorry honey, I have to do better next time…And there’s no exaggeration. Did you see that guy honey? Did you see him? All you have to do is see him and you know why I answered the way I did. (She says) ‘That’s no excuse, you’re a grown man. Show some maturity.’ I said ‘I can’t, I can’t do it.
2. Gregg’s Daughter, Jill, Gave Her Father a Pep Talk After the Spurs Lost to the Heat in the 2013 Finals
Gregg has been one of the most successful NBA coaches in recent history, but that does not mean he has not suffered heartbreaking losses on the court. Gregg has led the Spurs to five championships, but it is the losses that often stick with coaches the most. The Spurs lost the 2013 NBA Finals to the Heat in seven games, something Gregg found difficult to get past for the next season.
According to the San Antonio Express-News, Gregg was feeling down, when his daughter told him it was time to quit feeling sorry for himself. The San Antonio Express-News detailed the exchange between the father and daughter.
His daughter, Jill, told him something similar this summer. With a personality she clearly gets from her father, she said:
‘OK, Dad, let me get this straight: You won four championships, and you go to a fifth Finals. Other coaches lose all the time. But poor Greggy can’t lose because he’s special. Can you please get over yourself? End of story.’
He stared at her — then started laughing. Hadn’t his daughter told him the same get-over-yourself line he’s told so many others?
‘That started me on the path to recovery,’ he said.
3. Gregg Has Declined to Do Interviews in His Home & His Wife Declined Media Requests
There are few topics off limits with Gregg, as he is one of the few head coaches unafraid to discuss politics with the media. His family is another matter. ESPN detailed Gregg’s desire to keep his home out of the spotlight, and his wife also declined to do media interviews.
No cameraman or reporter has stepped foot into Popovich’s house for the obligatory coach’s home-life feature. Erin rarely attends games and has declined every interview request since her husband became Spurs GM in 1994.
Gregg has enjoyed sharing big moments with his family. ESPN recounted the Spurs coach winning another NBA title, and celebrating with his family.
And why, as the Spurs players danced around the Madison Square Garden floor celebrating their title in ’99, Pop was busy arguing with security guards to get Erin and his two kids, Micky and Jill, onto the court. Then he pulled his family into a tight circle and thanked them for allowing him to do his part.
4. Gregg’s Father, Raymond, Was Serbian & His Mother, Katherine, Was Croatian
According to the San Antonio Express-News, Gregg was born in Chicago, Indiana. His father, Raymond, was Serbian, while his mother, Katherine, Was Croatian. His parents split when Gregg was in fifth grade, and his mother moved the family to the more rural farm town of Merrillville. It was a transition that was difficult for Gregg.
“I was crushed,” Gregg told Texas Monthly (via San Antonio Express). “My mom had to beat me with a broom to get me out of the house. I remember that. I was out in the garage one night, and she came running out with a broom, just beat me over the head, kicking my butt out into the street because I would not leave.”
Gregg’s best friend since middle school, Arlie Pierce, spoke with the San Antonio Express-News on the influence of Gregg’s mother on his life.
“There was never a speck of dust,” Arlie told the San Antonio Express-News. “His mom made sure there was a proper dinner on the table every night.”
5. Gregg Calls Basketball a Way to “Support My Family”, But Believes It Is Not the “Most Interesting Thing in My Life”
Gregg is not keen on doing sideline interviews during games, but can be extremely candid away from the court. Gregg was recently asked how he handles balancing his family with his high-pressure job. He spoke with TSN’s Josh Lewenberg about how basketball was far from the most important thing in his life.
“Basketball is not my life,” Gregg explained. “It’s how I earn my money and how I support my family, but it’s not the most interesting thing in my life.”
Very few people knew what was going on with the Popovich family behind the scenes, but based on Wojnarowski’s report Erin had been ill for an extended period of time. Gregg’s wife would die just a few months after Gregg told TSN basketball was far from the most important thing in his life.