Harris led Delta State to three consecutive Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) national championships from 1975-1977.
While at Delta State, women’s basketball was introduced to the Olympics in 1976. Harris was selected to the team and had the distinction of being the first woman to score a basket in the competition’s first game. The US won the silver medal that year.
After her collegiate career, the NBA’s New Orleans Jazz, which began play in 1974 and would later move to Utah, selected her in the seventh round of the 1977 NBA draft.
Yet Harris turned down the offer from the Jazz, intent on starting a family.
“The NBA, I don’t regret not going. Not even a little bit,” she said.
Harris is still Delta State’s career record holder in points (2,891) and rebounds (1,662), the university said.
“The recent months brought Ms. Harris great joy, including the news of the upcoming wedding of her youngest son and the outpouring of recognition received by a recent documentary that brought worldwide attention to her story,” her family said in the statement.
“She will be remembered for her charity, for her achievements both on and off the court, and the light she brought to her community, the State of Mississippi, her country as the first woman ever to score a basket in the Olympics, and to women who play basketball around the world.”
CNN’s Jill Martin contributed to this report.