Born in the Philadelphia suburb of Havertown, Pennsylvania, Donaghy attended Cardinal O’Hara High School in Springfield, Pennsylvania along with three other NBA referees: Joe Crawford, Mike Callahan, along with Ed Malloy.  Donaghy graduated from Villanova University with a diploma in marketing and sales. He performed on the school’s baseball team, while at Villanova. According to the National Basketball Referee’s Association, Donaghy engaged and earned All-Catholic and All-Delaware County honors in baseball and All-Delaware County honors in basketball throughout high school, but then–Villanova baseball trainer George Bennett asserts that Donaghy didn’t perform on the varsity team and that no records indicate he was chosen to the All-Catholic team in baseball or named to the All-Delaware County baseball staff.
His wife Kimberly was wed by donaghy . They have four daughters. In September, 2007 Kim filed for divorce.
Officiating livelihood Before officiating in the NBA, Donaghy spent five years officiating at Pennsylvania high school basketball and seven seasons at the Continental Basketball Association (CBA), and he had been 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 matches. Donaghy was a participant at the NBA’s Read to Achieve program, for which he participated in an event in the Universal Charter college throughout 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 game, Donaghy called a technical foul on Rasheed Wallace, then playing the Portland Trail Blazers, for throwing a ball in another official during a game. Wallace confronted Donaghy after the match, screaming obscenities and, according Donaghy, threatening him. Wallace was suspended for seven games; this was the longest suspension issued from the league for an event not involving violence or drugs.