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Lusia Harris, The Only Woman Drafted To An NBA Team, Dies At 66

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Lusia Harris, the only woman officially drafted by an NBA team passed away in her native Mississippi at the age of 66, her family announced Tuesday (January 18).

“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,” Harris’ family said in a statement.

“The recent months brought Ms. Harris great joy, including the news of an upcoming wedding of her youngest son and the outpouring of recognition received by a recent documentary that brought worldwide attention to her story,” the statement continues.

Harris made history in 1977, after being drafted by the New Orleans Jazz in the seventh round. She didn’t try out for the team because she was pregnant at the time. In 1969, the San Francisco Warriors tried to draft Denise Long, but the move was blocked by the NBA because she didn’t meet draft requirements, NBC News reported.

She led Delta State University to three national titles during the 1970s and still holds the school’s all-time scoring record of 2,981 points.

Harris kept making history, putting up the first points in the very first Olympic women’s basketball game. She would go on to secure a silver medal for the US at the Montreal Olympic games in 1976.

She was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992, becoming the first Black woman to do so. Seven years later, she was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

“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 to ever score a basket in the Olympics, and to women who play basketball around the world,” the statement reads.

Her career was the subject of the documentary The Queen of Basketball.

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