Lusia “Lucy” Harris, the basketball pioneer who won silver at the 1976 Montreal Games and was the first black woman inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, has died at the age of 66, her family said on Tuesday.
No cause of death was given.
“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 family said in a statement.
“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,” the statement said.
Harris, the 10th of 11 children, was a standout high-school player before attending Mississippi’s Delta State University, where she won three consecutive national championships and was a three-time Most Valuable Player. She graduated with a university record of 109-6.
She led the US national team to gold at the 1975 Pan American Games and silver at the 1976 Montreal Games, which was the first Olympics to have a women’s basketball tournament.
She was drafted by the NBA’s New Orleans Jazz in 1977, but never played in the league, instead choosing to focus on raising a family.
She was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999.
Her life story was chronicled in a critically-acclaimed documentary last year titled The Queen of Basketball.
“When I got the call and they said they wanted to do this documentary, I was really kind of surprised,” she told Good Morning America in June. “That was just unreal.”
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