Groundbreaking basketball star Lusia Harris, the only woman to be drafted by an NBA team, has died at the age of 66.
Harris’ family announced Tuesday that she died unexpectedly earlier in the day in her home state of Mississippi.
“She will be remembered for her charity, for her achievements both on and off the court, and the light she brought to her community, the State of Mississippi, her country as the first woman ever to score a basket in the Olympics, and to women who play basketball around the world,” Harris’ family said in a statement.
Lucy Harris, as she was known during her playing days, was a three-time All-American who led Delta State to three consecutive AIAW national championships from 1975-77.
A 6-3 center, she was a starter on the United States team — along with future Hall of Famers Nancy Lieberman, Ann Meyers and Pat Head (Summit) — that won the silver medal in the inaugural Olympic women’s basketball tournament in Montreal in 1976.
Harris was selected by the New Orleans Jazz in the seventh round (137th overall) of the 1977 NBA draft. However, she declined to try out for the team. Only later was it revealed that she was pregnant at the time.
In 1992, Harris became the first Black woman to be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. And seven years later, she was one of 26 inductees in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
More recently, she was the subject of a 2021 short film titled, “The Queen of Basketball,” which detailed her extraordinary career.