Lusia Harris died at the age of 66 on Tuesday, the basketball legend’s family announced.
“We are deeply saddened to share the news that our angel, matriarch, sister, mother, grandmother, Olympic medalist, basketball queen Lusia Harris passed away unexpectedly today in Mississippi,” the family said in a statement.
“The past few months have brought Ms. Harris great joy, including the news of her youngest son’s upcoming wedding and the widespread acclaim received for a recent documentary that brought her story to global attention.”
In college, Harris led Delta State to three consecutive AIAW Championships. She made history in 1977 when the New Orleans Jazz selected her in the NBA Draft, making her the only woman to be officially drafted by an NBA team.
Harris reportedly did not try out for the team because she was pregnant at the time.
Harris made more history in 1976, scoring the first points in the first game of the inaugural women’s basketball tournament at the Olympics. The United States national team won a silver medal with Harris leading in scoring and rebounding.
USA Basketball mourns the loss of the Queen of Basketball, Lusia Harris.
Lusia was a silver medalist at the 1976 Olympics, scored the first points in Olympic women’s basketball history, and became the first black woman inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992. pic.twitter.com/ISrRjIqM3x
— USA Basketball (@usabasketball) January 19, 2022
Harris played professionally for the Houston Angels of the Women’s Professional Basketball League in 1979-80.
In 1992, Harris was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. In the process, she became the first black woman to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. She was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame less than a decade later.
“One of the greatest centers to ever play women’s basketball, Lusia Harris-Stewart was big, ruthless and dominated the paintball like no woman before her,” her Hall of Fame biography reads.