Lusia Harris, the First and Only Black Woman to Play in the NBA

Lusia Harris, first woman to play in the NBA

In 1977, professional basketball changed forever when a player named Lusia Harris became the first and only Black woman to play in the NBA. Growing up in Mississippi, Harris began her basketball career as the captain of her high school team as well as earning the most valuable player award three years in a row.

After graduating, Harris continued her career in sports by playing for the women's basketball team for Delta State University, where she won the national championship in Women’s basketball NCAA Division III,' according to She became successful outside of sports, however, as she finished her time in college with a bachelor's degree in health, physical education, and recreation.

Finally, in 1977, Harris made history when she was 'chosen in the seventh round of the 1977 NBA draft by the New Orleans Jazz (Now Utah Jazz),' becoming the first-ever African American woman to be officially drafted by the NBA. Although she was unable to try out for the team due to her pregnancy at the time, Harris did play briefly for the Houston Angels of the Women’s Professional Basketball League.