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Lusia Harris, the only woman ever to be officially drafted by an NBA team, has died

"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 in Mississippi today," the statement said.

Harris led Delta State to three consecutive 1975-1977 Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) national championships.

While in Delta State, women's basketball was introduced to the Olympics in 1976. Harris was selected to the team and had the honor of being the first woman to score a basket in the competition's first match. The United States won the silver medal that year.

After her collegiate career, the NBA's New Orleans Jazz, which began playing in 1974 and would later move to Utah, selected her in the seventh round of the 1977 NBA Draft.

Another woman, Denise Long, was selected in the 1969 draft by the San Francisco Warriors, but the selection was relegated by the league, making Harris the only woman to have been officially drafted so far.

Still, Harris rejected the offer from Jazz, which was keen to start a family.

"I just thought it was a commercial stunt and I felt like I did not think I was good enough," she said in "The Queen of Basketball," a short film about her life and career. "So I decided not to go. Yes, I said no to the NBA."

"NBA, I do not regret that I did not go. Not a little bit," she said.

The native of Minter City, Mississippi, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992 and was part of the inaugural class of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999.

Harris is still Delta State's career record holder in points (2,891) and rebounds (1,662), the university said.

"The past few months have brought Mrs. Harris great joy, including the news of the forthcoming wedding of her youngest son and the great recognition received by a recent documentary that brought worldwide attention to her story," her family said in the statement.

"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. "

CNN's Jill Martin contributed to this report.


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