Springfield, Mass. – The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame celebrates the life and mourns the passing of legendary women’s basketball pioneer Lusia Harris. Enshrined as a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992, Ms. Harris has passed away at the age of 66.
“Lusia Harris was an inspiration to women’s basketball players around the world,” said John L. Doleva, President and CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame. “As a true trailblazer, Lusia changed the way people viewed the women’s game and encouraged girls from around the globe to participate in basketball. She’ll be remembered for being a pillar of her community and bringing joy to everyone around her. Needless to say, she will be tremendously missed by the entire Hall of Fame family and our thoughts and condolences go out to her family and loved ones.”
Harris was the first African American woman to be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame and was the first and only woman ever drafted by an NBA team after the New Orleans Jazz selected her with the 137th pick in the 1977 draft. One of the greatest centers ever to play women's basketball, Harris was big, relentless and dominated the painted area like no woman before her. During her four-year career at Delta State University, Harris changed the face of women's basketball. Opponents called her unstoppable, but even that barely described her approach to the game. She scored 2,981 career points (25.9 ppg), grabbed 1,662 rebounds (14.4 rpg), was a three-time All-American and graduated with 15 Delta State team, single game and career records. In 1976, the bruising center averaged 31.2 points and 15.1 rebounds per game. She led Delta State to a 109-6 record and three straight AIAW national championships. When women’s basketball made its debut at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, Harris helped lead Team USA to a silver medal by leading the team in both points and rebounds and holds the distinction of scoring the first basket in women’s basketball Olympic competition.
About the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
Located in Springfield, Massachusetts, the city where basketball was born, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is an independent non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting, preserving and celebrating the game of basketball at every level – men and women, amateur and professional players, coaches and contributors, both domestically and internationally. The Hall of Fame museum is home to more than 400 inductees and over 40,000 square feet of basketball history. Nearly 200,000 people visit the Hall of Fame museum each year to learn about the game, experience the interactive exhibits and test their skills on the Jerry Colangelo "Court of Dreams." Best known for its annual marquee Enshrinement Ceremony honoring the game’s elite, the Hall of Fame also operates over 70 high school and collegiate competitions annually throughout the country and abroad. For more information on the Basketball Hall of Fame organization, its museum and events, visit www.hoophall.com, follow @hoophall @hoophallclassic or call 1-877-4HOOPLA.