/Delta State legend Lucy Harris, a basketball pioneer, has died at 66

Delta State legend Lucy Harris, a basketball pioneer, has died at 66

Her friends and a legion Delta fans called her Lucy. In 1975, Harris burst onto the national basketball scene when she led Delta State (now the Lady Statesmen) to a 28-0 record, and won the national championship. That was just the beginning. Her accomplishments, which she accomplished from a distance of almost half a century away, are mind-blowing. Harris, for example, was one of two women to be inducted into Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992. In 1990, she was inducted into Mississippi’s Sports Hall of Fame. Inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame as an inaugural inductee in 1999, she was also inducted in 1990. Langston Rogers was another Mississippi Sports Hall of Famer. He was also a long-time Ole Miss sports publicist. He was responsible for the incredible four-year run of the women’s basketball team, during which they won 109 and lost six. They were 93-4 over the three championship seasons. Rogers stated that Lucy was the true first female superstar in women’s soccer. She was the dominant player. Lucy was the only one who could dominate a game. She was 6’3″ tall and weighed in at 185. She was an incredible leaper and was so strong. She was a gifted athlete with great hands. Lucy will be the first one to admit that she had a lot help from Margaret Wade, her coach. But she was also the driving force behind three national championship teams. When Rogers was asked about Harris, Rogers got emotional. He said, “She was always smiling.” He said, “She was a strong force on the floor, but she was shy and soft-spoken off the court. Everyone loved Lucy. “I’m telling everyone that this is a terrible loss for Delta State, Mississippi, and women’s basketball worldwide.” Harris was the only African American player in the Delta State team. She was recruited by Melvin Hemphill, an assistant coach. Harris had previously played for Amanda Elzy High School, Greenwood. Debbie Brock, a Mississippi Sports Hall of Famer, was the ball-handling genius of a point guard for those Delta State teams. She said she felt like she and Harris were sisters. Brock stated, shortly after hearing about Harris’s passing, that there was “so much trust and so much love.” “Lucy was, in my opinion, the greatest woman’s post player in the game’s history. Her game would be a great example of what could happen. “She was such a force, talented, and so strong. She worked so hard at it.” Harris travelled to Knoxville last year for Brock’s induction into Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. Brock stated that she was the most wanted person on the list of all the people. She was my presenter even though she was disabled. It was not an easy journey for her, but she made it. Brock said that she called me on New Year’s Day and wished me a happy New Year. She said that she was doing well. This was less than three weeks ago. It’s unbelievable. “Lucy has never changed to me. She was soft-spoken, kind, and always full of love. Let me tell you, Harris was always focused on winning, even when she was not speaking out. Harris’s passing comes just after the award-winning documentary “The Queen of Basketball”, which featured her life and career, brought her to a new generation of basketball fans. Ann Meyers Drysdale, a former UCLA basketball All-American and a broadcaster, said that she was so happy that someone had the courage to make that documentary. “Lucy was the standard for what a center should be. Although I didn’t play against her in a match, I did practice with her and it was not something I enjoyed. She was strong and had great footwork. She was a fierce competitor. She was fiercely competitive. Meyers said, choked on her words, “The thing about Lucy was that she was such an adorable, loving person off of the floor.” “I loved her as my sister and will miss her.