Lusia Harris, the NBA’s first and only female draft pick, died on Tuesday in her hometown of Mississippi. She was 66 years old.
Her family revealed her death in a statement, but the cause of death has yet to be determined.
“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,” the statement reads. “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.”
From 1975 through 1977, Harris led Delta State to three consecutive AIAW national titles, when the AIAW was the equivalent of the NCAA for women’s collegiate athletics. In 115 college games, Harris, a 6-3 center, averaged 25.9 points and 14.5 rebounds while shooting 63.3 % from the floor. She was named the All-American three times.
According to the Associated Press, Harris was selected by the New Orleans Jazz in the seventh round of the 1977 NBA draft after her college career but did not try out for the team due to being pregnant.
Additionally, Harris became the first woman to score an Olympic point while playing basketball for the first U.S. Olympic women’s team. At that time the US won a silver medal at those Montreal Games.
Then in 1992, Harris became the first Black woman inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. In 1999, she was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
Thankfully, Harris lived long enough to see the documentary about her life titled “The Queen of Basketball” which was released in 2021.