Basketball legend and history-making player Lusia “Lucy” Harris passed away at the age of 66 on Tuesday, as announced by her family and her alma mater, Delta State University.
Harris is remembered for her groundbreaking achievements — including helping Delta State secure three consecutive championships in the 1970s, scoring the first points in Olympic women’s basketball history, and being the only woman to be officially drafted by the NBA.
She earned a silver medal for the U.S. at the Montreal Olympics in 1976, became the first Black woman to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992, and was later admitted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999.
“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 wrote statement released on Tuesday. “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.”
“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 ever to score a basket in the Olympics, and to women who play basketball around the world,” her loved ones added.
The NBA highlighted in its coverage of the superstar player’s passing that Harris averaged 25.9 points and 14.4 rebounds during her time at Delta State, lifting the university’s team to a 109-6 record. Additionally, Harris continues to be the school’s all-time leader in scoring (2,981 points) and rebounding (1,662).
“Obviously, we’re saddened to hear the news of her passing,” Delta State University Director of Athletics Mike Kinnison said on behalf of the institution. “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 to all of the contributions she made to Delta State athletics. She holds a special place in our hearts at Delta State and always will.”
Harris’s story was recognized by The New York Times last year following the release of the outlet’s short documentary, The Queen of Basketball, which detailed the player’s career. As Harris states in the film’s opening, she was born a small-town girl in Southern Mississippi in 1955, and she always had hopes of being a basketball pro.
You can learn more about her rise and conquering of the sport by watching the project down below.