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Thu, 02.10.1955

Lusia Harris, Basketball Player born

Lusia Harris

*Lusia Harris was born on this date in 1955. She was a Black basketball player and one of the women's professional basketball pioneers.

Harris was born to Ethel Harris and Willie Harris, a cranberry farmer in Minter City, Mississippi. She is the tenth of eleven children and the fourth of five daughters. All her brothers and one of her older sisters, Janie, played basketball. Harris and her siblings attended Amanda Elzy High School in Greenwood, Mississippi. Harris won the most valuable player award three consecutive years, was captain, and made the state All-Star team. She scored a school-record 46 points in one game and led her school to the state tournament in Jackson, Mississippi.

After high school, she planned to attend Alcorn State University, which did not have a women's basketball team. However, she would attend Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi.

Before Title IX, there were no sports scholarships for women. She attended school on a combination of academic scholarships and work-study funds. In her first year in Delta State, Harris helped the Lady Statesmen to a 16–2 record. However, they finished third in the regional tournament and failed to qualify for the national tournament.

The following year, the Lady Statesmen went to the final, where they met the Mighty Macs of Immaculata University. Harris scored 32 points in the final and recorded 16 rebounds to lead Delta State past Immaculata 90–81. The 1975 championship game was the first time a major network nationally televised women's basketball games. That season, Delta State went undefeated with a 28–0 record, the only undefeated college season that year (men or women).

Harris scored 138 points and 63 rebounds in four games at the national tournament and was named as the tournament's most valuable player. In the 1975–76 season, she scored 1,060 points and 31.2 points per game average, including a 58-point game against Tennessee Tech. In her senior season, Delta State played a game in the Madison Square Garden, where Harris scored 47 points. This was one of the first women's basketball games ever played there. Delta State then went to the national tournament final for the third year. Harris scored 23 points in the final and recorded 16 rebounds as Delta State defeated Louisiana State University 68–55 for their third consecutive title.

Harris finished her college career with 2,981 points and 1,662 rebounds, averaging 25.9 points and 14.5 rebounds per game. In 1977, she won the inaugural Honda Sports Award for basketball and the Broderick Cup, an award for outstanding female athletes in college. In international play, she represented the United States national team and won the silver medal in the 1976 Olympic Games, the first women's basketball tournament in the Olympic Games. She played professional basketball with the Houston Angels of the Women's Professional Basketball League (WBL).

She was the first and only woman officially drafted by the National Basketball Association (NBA) New Orleans Jazz, a men's professional basketball team. Harris was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and Women's Basketball Hall of Fame for her achievements. During her tenure at Delta State, Harris was the only Black player. The Lady Statesmen's home arena where Harris played, the Walter Sillers Coliseum, is named after Walter Sillers Jr., an outspoken White Nationalist. As of December 2021, the arena continues to bear Sillers' name. Lucia Harris died on January 18, 2022.

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