Two-time Olympic gold-medalist and former ABL MVP Nikki McCray-Penson has died. She was 51. Check out What happened to Nikki McCray.
Nikki McCray-Penson, Former WNBA All-Star, Dies at Age 51.
Two-time Olympic gold-medalist and former Tennessee star Nikki McCray-Penson has died. She was 51.
According to The State, Robert Penson, McCray-Penson’s cousin, confirmed that she died during the night due to secondary complications related to breast cancer.
McCray-Penson was an assistant women’s basketball coach at Rutgers last season and the school on Friday confirmed her death.
She joined coach Dawn Staley as an assistant at South Carolina from 2008-17. She was part of the Gamecocks’ first national championship in 2017. They were gold-medal teammates at the 1996 Atlanta and 2000 Sydney Olympics.
“It’s hard to think about Nikki’s passing because all I can see is how fully she lived,” Staley said in a statement. “From her days as a brash rookie in USA Basketball to becoming my friend and colleague to the way she mentored young players, Nikki did everything with her whole heart. … she had such light, such positive energy inside her no matter what was going on. I am heartbroken that cancer has taken that light from us, but I know that she would want us to be the ones to carry it on in her absence.”
McCray-Penson played at Tennessee from 1991-95 under Hall of Fame coach Pat Summitt. The point guard was a two-time SEC Player of the Year and a two-time Kodak All-America standout during her junior and senior seasons for the Lady Vols. The team reached the Final Four in 1995, losing in the championship game to undefeated Connecticut.
The 1996 U.S. Olympic team sparked the formation of the WNBA and ABL (American Basketball League 1996-98). She won MVP honors in 1997 while leading the ABL’s Columbus Quest to a championship before heading over to the WNBA. McCray-Penson was a three-time All-Star in that league while playing for the Washington Mystics.