Hall of Fame inductee and the only woman to ever be drafted into the National Basketball Association passed away earlier this year. Lusia Mae Harris, known as one of the greatest centers to ever play women’s basketball, passed away at age 66 on January 18, according to The New York Times.
The 6-foot-3 Harris was drafted in the seventh round by the New Orleans Jazz in 1977. She was the 137th overall pick, but never played in a men’s NBA game.
Born in Minter City, Miss., to Ethel and Willie Harris, she attended Amanda Elzy High School in Greenwood, Miss., before attending Delta State University in Cleveland, Miss.
During her career at Delta State, Harris led the team to a 109-6 record and won three Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women national championships.
Opponents called her “unstoppable.” However, according to Wikipedia, that description was barely sufficient to describe her approach to the game. Under the tutelage of Hall of Fame Coach Margaret Wade, Harris recorded 2,981 career points (25.9 ppg), 1,662 rebounds (14.4 rpg), and 15 Delta State team, single game, and career records.
She was big and relentless and dominated the court, and opposing teams couldn’t handle her, said the article. Harris played on the first U.S. women’s Olympic team and won a Silver Medal. She was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992.
She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Health, Physical Education and Recreation. She also earned a Master’s Degree in Education and attended college on a combination of academic and work-study scholarships.
“The Queen of Basketball” was the title of a documentary about Harris that won a 2022 Academy Award in the short subject category. The film was produced by Canadian filmmaker Ben Proudfoot, with basketball greats Shaquille O’Neal and Stephen Curry as executive producers. The film was released on June 10, 2021. Harris died seven months later.
Harris was a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority. She is survived by husband George E. Stewart and four children.
Other notable women Hall of Famers for basketball:
Margaret Wade (1985); Ann Meyers (1993); Pat Head Summitt (2000); Nera D. White (1992); Nancy I. Lieberman (1996).