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Lusia Harris, pioneering basketball Hall of Famer and only woman officially named by the NBA team, dies at age 66

Lusia Harris, who won three national championships in Delta State and scored the first points in the basketball women's Olympic history in the 1970s, died Tuesday at the age of 66, her family announced.

A cause of death was not disclosed.

Harris was the first black woman to be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992. She was also drafted by the NBA's New Orleans Jazz in 1977, making her the first and only woman to be officially selected by an NBA team. , even though she did. Do not try to try Jazz because she was pregnant at the time. She played briefly professionally in the Women's Professional Basketball League in 1979-80.

She is based in Minter City, Mississippi, and put Delta State - located in Cleveland, Mississippi - on the map in women's basketball with titles in 1975, '76 and '77 in the sport's AIAW era.

"We are deeply saddened to share the news that our angel, matriarch, sister, mother, grandmother, Olympic medalist, The Queen of Basketball, Lusia Harris has died unexpectedly today in Mississippi," Harris' family said in a statement. “The past few months have brought Mrs. Harris great joy, including the news of the upcoming wedding of her youngest son and the great recognition that a recent documentary has garnered worldwide attention for her story.

"She will be remembered for her charity, for her achievements both on and off the field, 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. "

Harris remains the Delta State career record holder in points (2,891) and rebounds (1,662), averaging 25.9 points and 14.5 rebounds in 115 career games played. The triple All-American shot 63.3% from the field for his career.

Women's basketball debuted at the 1976 Olympics, and Harris scored the first basket of the competition at the Montreal Games. The American team won the silver medal with Harris as its leading goal scorer and rebounder.

Harris also starred in a 2021 short film titled "The Queen of Basketball" that detailed her career.

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