The story of Lusia Harris is one that many do not know. I personally wasn't too familiar with her story, but remembered reading about her at Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame a while back.
Lusia Harris is A Hall of Fame Hooper. Collegiate Champion. Olympic Medalist. Wheaties Box Athlete. A Pioneer.
Sadly, she passed away today unexcitingly at the age of 66. Although her passing occurred, her story should and will continue to live on. The story of how she was the first woman ever to be drafted in the NBA.
Photo: John G. Zimmerman /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images
Her basketball journey begins in high school. Lusia Harris was a naturally talented basketball player. Growing up in Mississippi, she was a 3x MVP and Captain in high school and went on to shine at Delta State University. The 6'3 Center lead the Lady Statesmen's to three AIAW Women's Basketball Tournament Championships and scored over 3,000 points in those three years.
In 1975, after all of her awards and accolades, she was selected by to represent the United States in the FIBA World Championship for Women and the Pan American Games in Colombia and Mexico respectively. The Women's Team won gold in the Pan Am's. Later, she teamed up with her fellow FIBA members and participated in the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.
Scoring the first ever points in women's Olympic basketball tournament, Harris helped bring home the silver medal in that Olympics, which was the first of many for the United States.
Photo: Hoop Feed Archives
A year later, and her resume attracted the likes of the NBA. The New Orleans Jazz featuring Pistol Pete Maravich, selected Lusia with the 137th pick, becoming the first woman ever to be drafted in the National Basketball Association . Selected over 33 men, Harris broke barriers and made history.
Her story takes her a different route, as she declined the opportunity and began the start of her family and her continued education.
She graduated from Delta State and upon graduation worked in her Alma Mater as an admission counselor and assistant basketball coach. She got into coaching, and then went back home to Mississippi to teach and coach at her old high school, Amanda Elyza. In 1992, she became the first Black woman to be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
Death is always a sad topic, but the stories that come from passing's are usually mean more. Hopefully Lusia's story will continue on, and that this piece of history is honored for years to come.