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Luisa Harris
19/01/2022
FIBA Family
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USA Olympic legend Lusia Harris dies at 66

GREENWOOD (USA) - International basketball and the Olympic movement is mourning the passing of legendary USA center Lusia Harris. She died on Tuesday at the age of 66.

A three-time national champion at Delta State University, Harris played for the USA and scored the first-ever points in a women's tournament at the Olympics, in 1976.


A documentary of Harris' life (above) tells her incredible story.

Before Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore, Brittney Griner and so many other wonderful USA players, there was "Lucy", a powerful 1.91m (6'3") dominating center who was big, relentless, and according to many of her opponents, unstoppable. 

A native of Mississippi, Harris had planned on attending Alcorn State University but because they had no women's basketball team, a sport she had excelled in at Amanda Elzy High School in Greenwood, she instead enrolled at Delta State and went on to lead the team to three national titles.

Harris earned a spot in the USA national team and played at the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 1975 in Colombia.

It was in Montreal, Canada, the following year where Harris played for the Americans and made history. Against Japan in the first women's basketball game at the Olympics, Harris scored on a fastbreak after receiving a bounce pass from Ann Meyers.

She led USA to the silver medal, averaging 15.2 points and 7.0 rebounds per game.

The late Pat Summitt, who had a long and successful coaching career at Tennessee and also held the reins of the USA squad at the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles, was an Olympic teammate of Harris.

"When you think about Lucy Harris, she put Delta State on the map," Summitt said years ago in an ESPN feature on Harris. "She broke ground for women's basketball and paved the way for so many other players that are playing today." 

After graduating from Delta State in 1977, and long before the start of the WNBA, Harris became the first and only woman ever to be drafted by an NBA team, the New Orleans Jazz.

She was taken in seventh round but viewed it as a publicity stunt and did not try to make the team.

Harris ended up getting into coaching. In 1980, she became an assistant coach at Delta State and four years later was appointed head coach of Texas Southern. 

Harris was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992.

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