2022 Regular Session
By: Senator(s) Jordan, Harkins, McMahan, Blackwell, Simmons (12th), Chassaniol, McCaughn, DeLano, Wiggins, Norwood, Frazier, Thomas, Seymour, Suber, Thompson, Blount, Williams, Butler (36th), Sparks, Barnett, Jackson (11th), Simmons (13th), Hickman, Polk, Younger, Whaley, McLendon, Hopson, Branning, Butler (38th), Caughman, England, Horhn, McDaniel
A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION EXPRESSING THE DEEPEST SYMPATHY OF THE LEGISLATURE ON THE PASSING OF LUSIA "LUCY" HARRIS OF MINTER CITY, MISSISSIPPI, AND REMEMBERING HER LEGACY AS A PIONEER OF WOMEN'S BASKETBALL ON THE OCCASION OF THE PREMIER OF THE DOCUMENTARY FILM "THE QUEEN OF BASKETBALL" RELEASED IN HER HONOR.
WHEREAS, we mourn the passing of Lucy Harris, a Mississippi sports legend, on January 18, 2022; and
WHEREAS, Lusia "Lucy" Harris was considered to be one of the pioneers of women's basketball and was one the greatest women's basketball players. As a dominating center, she won three national titles and scored the first basket in the first Olympic competition for women in 1976. Lucy was the first and only Black woman to be drafted to the NBA (before the WNBA existed) courtesy of the New Orleans Jazz. In 1992, Lucy became the first Black woman to be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame; and
WHEREAS, Lucy Harris was born on February 10, 1955, in Minter City, Mississippi, to Ethel and Willie Harris, a homemaker and vegetable farmer, respectively. She is the tenth of eleven children and the fourth of five daughters. Lucy and her siblings attended Amanda Elzy High School in Greenwood, Mississippi, where she won the Most Valuable Player Award in basketball for three consecutive years, 1971 to 1973 She served as Team 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; and
WHEREAS, after graduating from high school in 1973, Lucy attended Delta State University. During her freshman year there, she helped the Delta State Women's Basketball team to a 16-2 record. The following year, Lucy led Delta State in a 90-81 victory over Immaculata University in Immaculata, Pennsylvania, to win the National Championship in Women's Basketball NCAA Division III. Lucy led the team with 32 points and 16 rebounds. In the 1975-1976 season, Delta State and Immaculata met again in the National Tournament Final, and Lucy led Delta State with 30 points and 18 rebounds in a 69-64 victory over Immaculata; and
WHEREAS, Delta State returned to the National Tournament Final in 1977, where she scored 23 points and 16 rebounds and led her team in defeating Louisiana State University 68-55, for Delta State's third consecutive title. Lucy finished her college career with 2,981 points and 1,662 rebounds, averaging 25.9 points and 14.5 rebounds per game. Lucy was named as the tournament's Most Valuable Player (MVP) and to the All-American First Team during Delta State's three winning seasons. Harris graduated from Delta State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Health, Physical Education, and Recreation in 1977; and
WHEREAS, Lucy also played on the United States Women's Basketball Team, which won Gold in the 1975 Pan American Games and Silver in the 1976 Summer Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada; and
WHEREAS, Lucy was chosen in the seventh round of the 1977 NBA draft by the New Orleans Jazz (now Utah Jazz), becoming only the second woman ever drafted by an NBA team. However, the NBA voided their first selection, thus making Lucy the first and so far only woman ever officially drafted. Lucy declined to try out for the Jazz because she was pregnant at the time. She played professional basketball briefly in the 1979-1980 season with the Houston (Texas) Angels of the Women's Professional Basketball League (WBL); and
WHEREAS, after her basketball career ended, Harris returned to Delta State to earn her Master's Degree in Education in 1984. In 1992, Harris and former player, Nera White, became the first two women ever inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Harris was the first African American woman inductee. Harris was also inducted into to the Woman's Basketball Hall of Fame and the International Woman's Sports Hall of Fame; and
WHEREAS, Harris married George E. Stewart on February 4, 1977. The couple has two sons and twin daughters; and
WHEREAS, in "The Queen of Basketball," a documentary short that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in June 2021, Ben Proudfoot tells Lucy's story. The documentary team digitized nearly 10,000 film negatives and 16,000 feet of film to reveal why Lucy was unstoppable on the court. She averaged 25.9 points and 14.4 rebounds per game and graduated with 15 Delta State team, single-game and career records. She also led her Alma Mater to a 109-6 record; and
WHEREAS, Shaquille O'Neal, the former Laker great, got on board as the executive producer when he heard Lucy's story. "I want to honor Miss Harris, you know, by helping her story get out to the world," said O'Neal. "I had no idea who she was and I like to consider myself a basketball aficionado." O'Neal said he was inspired by Harris' story because of all the things that she had to endure. "She made it possible for women to be able to do what they have done today"; and
WHEREAS, Lucy Harris was a champion whose staggering statistics are now becoming recognized years later, and it is with great pride that we join the basketball community in recognizing a Mississippi athlete who has brought honor to her community, to her university and to the State of Mississippi:
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CONCURRING THEREIN, That we do hereby express the deepest sympathy of the Legislature on the passing of Lusia (Lucy) Harris of Minter City, Mississippi, and remember her legacy as a pioneer of women's basketball on the occasion of the premier of the documentary film "The Queen of Basketball" released in her honor, and extend to the family of Lucy Harris our condolences on her passing.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That this resolution be presented to the surviving family of Lucy Harris, forwarded to the Athletic Department of Delta State University, and be made available to the Capitol Press Corps.