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

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

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“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,” reads the communicated.

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

While at Delta State, women’s basketball was introduced to the Olympics in 1976. Harris was selected to the team and had the distinction of being the first woman to score a field goal in the first game of the competition. The United States won the silver medal that year.

After her college career, the NBA’s New Orleans Jazz, which started playing in 1974 and later moved 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 pick was overruled by the league, making Harris the only woman, to date, to be officially drafted.

Still, Harris turned down the Jazz’s offer, determined to start a family.

“I just thought it was a publicity stunt and I felt like I wasn’t good enough,” she said in ‘The Queen of Basketball,’ a short film about her life and career . “So I decided not to go. Yeah, I said no to the NBA.”

“The NBA, I don’t regret not going. Not even a little bit,” she said.

The Minter City, Mississippi native 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 great joy to Mrs. Harris, including the news of her youngest son’s upcoming wedding and the outpouring of recognition received by a recent documentary that brought her story to worldwide attention,” his family said in the statement.

“She will be remembered for her charity, for her accomplishments on and off the court, and the light she brought to her community, the state of Mississippi, her country as the first woman to score a field goal. at the Olympics, and to women who play basketball around the world.”

CNN’s Jill Martin contributed to this report.

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

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