Basketball is in mourning. The only woman selected in the NBA Draft, Lusia Harris passed away this Tuesday (18) at the age of 66. According to ESPN, the cause of death is still unknown. The sports legend leaves four children. The family of Lusia Harris issued a press release mourning the death of their matriarch.
“We are deeply saddened to share the news that our angel, matriarch, sister, mother, grandmother, Olympic medalist, Queen of Basketball, Lusia Harris passed away unexpectedly today in Mississippi. So the last few months have brought great joy to Ms. Harris, including the news of her youngest son’s marriage, and the recognition she received for a recent documentary that brought her story to worldwide attention.”
Considered one of the pioneers of women’s basketball, Lusia was officially drafted by the New Orleans Jazz (now Utah) in the seventh round of the 1977 draft ( pick 137). However, she did not join the league because she was pregnant at the time.
In college basketball, Lusia was featured on Mississippi’s Delta State team. In 115 games (109 wins), she averaged 25.9 points and 14.5 rebounds. In this way, Lusia led the unknown team to an unlikely third university championship (1975-1977).
It is worth remembering that, in the 1969 Draft, the San Francisco Warriors (now Golden State) tried to select Denise Long. However, the NBA vetoed the choice. At the time, the league did not allow the selection of women or athletes who came directly from high school basketball, which was the case for Denise.
History in the Olympics and Hall of Fame
Due to her success at College, Lusia was part of the United States national team and also made history: she was responsible for the first women’s basketball basket in an Olympics. This took place in Montreal, Canada, in 1976. In addition, she helped the USA to win the silver medal in that edition of the Olympic Games.
Thus, in 1992, Lusia was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Detail: she was the first black athlete to receive this honor. Subsequently, in 1999, Lusia was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
For all this, the legendary former player became known as the Queen of Basketball. A documentary of the same name, released last year, shows her trajectory in the sport.
Finally, it is worth saying that Lusia Harris will forever be remembered as the first woman to be drafted in the NBA and to score a basket at the Olympics. Most of all, her legacy will serve as an inspiration to women playing basketball around the world.