Born from the Philadelphia suburb of Havertown, Pennsylvania, Donaghy attended Cardinal O’Hara High School in Springfield, Pennsylvania and three other NBA referees: Joe Crawford, Mike Callahan, along with Ed Malloy.  Donaghy graduated from Villanova University with a degree in marketing and sales. While at Villanova, he played on the baseball team of the school. According to the National Basketball Referee’s Association, Donaghy participated and earned All-Catholic and All-Delaware County honors in baseball and All-Delaware County honors in basketball throughout high school, but –Villanova baseball trainer George Bennett contends that Donaghy did not perform on the varsity team and no records indicate he was selected to the All-Catholic team in baseball or appointed to the All-Delaware County baseball staff.
Donaghy wed his wife Kimberly . They have four daughters. In September, 2007 Kim filed for divorce.
Officiating livelihood Before officiating in the NBA, Donaghy spent five years officiating in Pennsylvania high school basketball and seven seasons at the Continental Basketball Association (CBA), and he was the head official for the 1993 CBA All-Star Game. The following year, he joined the NBA, where he worked for 13 years, officiating in 772 regular-season games and 20 playoff games. Donaghy was a participant in the NBA’s Read to Achieve program, for which he participated in an event in the Universal Charter school during the 2002 NBA Finals. [ His uniform number was 21.
Donaghy was one of three referees who worked the Pacers–Pistons brawl at The Palace of Auburn Hills on November 19, 2004, which ended in a fight between Pacers players and Pistons fans.]
During a 2003 regular-season match, Donaghy called a technical foul on Rasheed Wallace, then playing with the Portland Trail Blazers, for throwing a ball at another official during a game. Wallace confronted Donaghy after the game, threatening him screaming obscenities and, according Donaghy. Wallace was suspended for seven games; this is the longest suspension issued from the league for an incident not involving violence or drugs.
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