Lusia Harris, Only Woman Drafted by NBA Team, Dies at 66

In Summary

The Minter City, Mississippi, native was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992.

Lusia Harris, who was a star in women’s college basketball and the only woman to be drafted by an NBA club, passed away on Jan. 18 at the age of 66, according to CNN

“We are deeply saddened to share the news that our angel, matriarch, sister, mother, grandmother, Olympic medalist, The Queen of Basketball, Lusia Harris has passed away unexpectedly today in Mississippi,” her family said in a statement. “The recent months brought Ms. Harris great joy, including the news of the upcoming wedding of her youngest son and the outpouring of recognition received by a recent documentary that brought worldwide attention to her story.” 

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While at Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi, she led the squad to three straight Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women national championships from 1975-1977. Harris is the school’s all-time leader in points (2,891) and rebounds (1,662). 

“Obviously, we’re saddened to hear the news of her passing,” Delta State University Director of Athletics Mike Kinnison said. “She was one of our greatest Lady Statesman athletes ever. We certainly send our sympathy to her family and at the same time we’re very appreciative of all of the contributions she made to Delta State Athletics. She holds a special place in our hearts at Delta State and always will.” 

In 1976, women’s basketball was introduced in the Olympics and Harris was picked to be on the team, according to CNN. She had the honor of scoring the first basket in the Olympics’ first game. 

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Then in 1977, Harris would make history as being the first and only woman to be drafted in the NBA as she was picked by the New Orleans Jazz in the seventh round. 

The Minter City, Mississippi, native was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992 and was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999. 

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