TJ FV 2023 Banner
Rickey Smiley Morning Show Featured Video
CLOSE
Jesse Powell Promotional Visit In Chicago

Source: Raymond Boyd / Getty

 

While death is inevitably a part of life, that truth doesn’t make it any easier to say goodbye to those who have died.

So far in 2022, we’ve had to say goodbye to some notable Black people.

Keep reading below to learn more about the notable Black people we’ve lost in 2022…

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD OUR APP AND TAKE US WITH YOU ANYWHERE!

Rest In Power: Notable Black Folks Who We’ve Lost In 2022  was originally published on newsone.com

1. Jesse Powell, 51

Jesse Powell, 51 Source:Getty

His death was confirmed in a statement from The Powell Family shared via Instagram by Tamara Powell.

“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of our beloved son, brother, and uncle Jesse Powell,”  the post reads.

“He passed away peacefully in his Los Angeles home. The family asks for privacy at this time as we mourn this tremendous loss and celebrate his everlasting legacy. Jesse loved music and he especially loved his fans who supported him throughout his career. We want you all to know that you meant the world to him. – The Powell Family.” 

2. Ramsey Lewis, 87

Ramsey Lewis, 87 Source:Getty

3. Bernard Shaw, 82

Bernard Shaw, 82 Source:Getty

Shaw, who rose to journalistic prominence as the face of CNN for more than 20 years after becoming one of the then-upstart network’s first news anchors, gained the collective trust of America as he reported on myriad history-making moments in the U.S. as well as around the world. His death was first reported by CNN.

4. David A. Arnold, 54

David A. Arnold, 54 Source:Getty

“It is with great sadness that we confirm the untimely passing of our husband, father, brother, and friend, David A. Arnold. David passed away peacefully today in his home and doctors have ruled the cause of death due to natural causes,” said in a statement released by his family. “Please keep our family in prayer and respect our privacy at this time, as we are all shocked and devastated by this loss.”

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE

5. Roger E. Mosley, 83

Roger E. Mosley, 83 Source:Getty

Roger E. Mosley, best known as helicopter pilot Theodore “T.C.” Calvin in the original Magnum P.I., has died at the age of 83.

His daughter, Ch-a Mosley, confirmed his death early Sunday morning (Aug. 7) on Facebook:

“He was surrounded by family as he transcended peacefully. We could never mourn such an amazing man. He would HATE any crying done in his name. It is time to celebrate the legacy he left for us all. I love you daddy. You loved me too. My heart is heavy but I am strong. I will care for mommy, your love of almost 60 years. You raised me well and she is in good hands. Rest easy.”

6. Lamont Dozier

Lamont Dozier Source:Getty

Lamont Dozier, the songwriter who penned hits for acts such as Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, and the Isley Brothers has died. Dozier was one-third of the songwriting and production trio Holland–Dozier–Holland that was responsible for much of the Motown Sound that changed music The news was confirmed by his son Lamont Dozier, Jr. on his Instagram account.

READ MORE HERE

7. Nichelle Nichols, 89

Nichelle Nichols, 89 Source:Getty

Nichelle Nichols, best known for her groundbreaking role as Nyota Uhura in Star Trek: The Original Series, passed away on Saturday night (Jul.30). Her son, Kyle Johnson, revealed the iconic actress died of natural causes in an Instagram post shared on Nichol’s official IG page.

CLICK TO READ MORE

8. Bill Russell, 88

Bill Russell, one of the iconic figures in American history and the greatest winner in North American team sports, died peacefully on Sunday (July 31). He was 88.

Russell’s wife was by his side when he passed, and funeral arrangements will be announced soon.

9. Mary Alice, 85

Mary Alice, 85 Source:Getty

Mary Alice, an actress who endeared herself to fans with her performances in films such as SparkleThe Women of Brewster Place, on stage in August Wilson’s Fences and on TV with A Different World, has died. She was 85.

Alice died in her home in New York City on Wednesday (July 27), according to the NYPD and confirmed by The Hollywood Reporter.

A venerable actress was known for her elegance and stately performances, Alice won a Tony Award in 1987 for her portrayal of Rose in Fences alongside James Earl Jones as Troy and Courtney B. Vance‘s Corey. She was inducted in the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 2000.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE

10. Michael Henderson, 71

Michael Henderson, 71 Source:Getty

Michael Henderson, singer, and musician most known for his vocals on the Norman Connors track “You Are My Starship” has passed away. The announcement was shared on Henderson’s Facebook page.

“Singer, Songwriter, Bass Innovator, Music Producer, Father and Son Michael Henderson has peacefully made his transition surrounded by family and loved ones today at his home, Atlanta Georgia…,” the post read. “Bless his heart and soul…  He touched the lives of many and returned that love through his many live concerts, music recordings, social media, interviews and incessant touring which he loved…”

11. Jak Knught

Jak Knught Source:Getty

“The writer, actor, and comedian was found on a Los Angeles Calif. embankment Thursday suffering from a gunshot wound, according to a coroner’s report obtained by PEOPLE Monday,” the website revealed.

Jak Knight’s cause of death has been confirmed following an autopsy by the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner.

12. William “Poogie” Hart, 77

William "Poogie" Hart, 77 Source:Getty

William “Poogie” Hart, the Grammy Award-winning lead singer and songwriter of the R&B group The Delfonics, has passed away. He was 77.

According to TMZ, Hart had complained of trouble breathing, and he was taken to Temple University Hospital on Thursday (July 14), where he died due to complications from surgery.

The Delfonics were founded in Philadelphia in the ’60s with Hart and his brother Wilbert alongside Randy Cain, Ritchie Daniels and Thom Bell. The Sound of Philadelphia, otherwise known as T.S.O.P, became a hallmark of soul music in the ’60s and ’70s and the Delfonics were one of the forefathers with hit singles such as “La-La Means I Love You,” “Hey! Love,” “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time),” and “Ready or Not Here I Come (Can’t Hide From Love).”

Landing on Kenneth Gamble & Leon Huff’s Philadelphia International Records label in the ’70s, the group was a label powerhouse alongside noted singers and legends, including The O’Jays, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, Teddy Pendergrass, MFSB, The Stylistics, Patti LaBelle and Lou Rawls.

The group would win a Grammy in 1971 for “Didn’t I” for Best Performance By A Duo Or Group, Vocal Or Instrumental and would later become the backbone for several ’90s hits, including The Fugees’ “Ready Or Not” and Missy Elliott’s “Sock It To Me.”

After the original band split in 1975, former members created smaller groups to keep the sound and spirit alive. The Delfonics scored twelve top-20 hits on the Billboard R&B singles charts.

13. Jaylon Ferguson, 26

In a statement, the Baltimore Ravens said: “We are profoundly saddened by the tragic passing of Jaylon Ferguson,” the team said in a statement. “He was a kind, respectful young man with a big smile and infectious personality. We express our heartfelt condolences to Jaylon’s family and friends as we mourn a life lost much too soon.”

14. Caleb Swanigan, 25

Former Purdue Boilermaker Caleb Swanigan died at the age of 25. The team revealed the news Monday night but didn’t release any other information surrounding the tragedy.

“Alongside a broken heart emoji, the team wrote, “Devastated. Our thoughts and prayers to Caleb Swanigan’s family and friends. The world lost a gentle soul last night. Love you Biggie.”

15. Darius Lee, 21

TMZ broke the news of the 21-year-old college hooper’s death. According to the website, the NYPD reports Darius Lee was shot and killed around 12:40 AM while attending a barbeque in Harlem. Local law enforcement said when they arrived on the scene following reports of gunfire, they found nine people, seven males and two females suffering from gunshot woun

16. Trouble, 36

Trouble, 36 Source:Getty

Atlanta-based rapper Trouble was reportedly shot and killed while sitting in his car on June 5th, 2022

17. Marion Barber, III

Marion Barber, III Source:Getty

Barber played a total of seven years in the NFL, including six for the Cowboys, between 2005 and 2011. He was a Pro Bowler in 2007 after rushing for 975 yards and 10 touchdowns in a season that he didn’t start a game for Dallas, splitting time with Julius Jones. Barber finished his career with 4,780 rushing yards and 53 rushing touchdowns. He played the 2011 season with the Chicago Bears. Barber retired from the NFL before the start of the 2012 season.

READ MORE

18. Tytyana Miller

On Monday, May 30, Master P announced his daughter Tytyana Miller died. The younger sister to actor and rapper Romeo Miller, Tytyana was 29-years-old. Tytyana appeared alongside her brother on the reality show “Growing Up Hip Hop” in 2016. She was

Master P shared in an Instagram post that Tytyana battled substance abuse and mental illness. Outliving one’s children is a tough experience for parents.

Master P stroke and understandably somber note, closing out the post with #MyAngel.

“Our family is dealing with an overwhelming grief for the loss of my daughter Tytyana,” he wrote. “We respectfully request some privacy so that our family can grieve. We appreciate all of the prayers love and support. Mental illness & substance abuse is a real issue that we can’t be afraid to talk about. With God, we will get through this.”

19. Jeff Gladney, NFL player, 25

Jeff Gladney, NFL player, 25 Source:Getty

Another tragedy has hit the entertainment community and sports world.

NFL player Jeff Gladney died Monday morning in a crash in Dallas. He was only 25-years-old. Gladney, who played for the Arizona Cardinals, was among two people who died in the crash.

According to a preliminary investigation by the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department, the car occupied by Gladney and a woman was speeding on a Dallas freeway. Their vehicle clipped another from behind, causing Glaney’s vehicle to lose control, crashing into a freeway pier beam, killing everyone in the vehicle. The passengers of the second vehicle involved in the accident were not injured.

In a tweet Monday, the Arizona Cardinals expressed condolences to the Gladney family. We are devastated to learn of Jeff Gladney’s passing,” the Cardinals wrote. “Our hearts go out to his family, friends, and all who are mourning this tremendous loss.”

Gladney, who played college football at Texas Christian University, was in his third season in the NFL. He was drafted in the first round in 2020 by the Minnesota Vikings. In March 2022, Gladney signed a two-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals.

20.

21. Jazz Singer & Keyboardist, Bernard Wright Passes Away, 58

Born in Jamaica, NYC, Wright dominated the R&B and radio industry with his hit song, “Who Do You Love”  while he was just 19 years old. Roberta Flack, a brilliant woman and world-class singer also played a motherly role in the life of Bernard Wright.

READ MORE 

22. Bob Lanier, 73

The NBA released an official statement that attributed his death to a short illness. However, a 2019 report from The Athletic wrote that Lanier was taking treatments for bladder cancer. “For more than 30 years, Bob served as our global ambassador and as a special assistant to David Stern and then me, traveling the world to teach the game’s values and make a positive impact on young people everywhere,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement, also adding, “It was a labor of love for Bob, who was one of the kindest and most genuine people I have ever been around.”

23. Kevin Samuels, 58

The reports of Samuels’ death flooded social media timelines everywhere on Thursday afternoon but initially offered no immediate verification of the claims that he died.

His faithful followers demanded proof. As a result, Samuels’ name became a top trending topic on Twitter on Thursday afternoon as people tried to sort out the facts.

Kevin Samuels, a self-proclaimed relationship guru and image consultant who is better known for divisive, misogynistic commentary about Black women, in particular, died Thursday at the age of 56, according to reports. There were no immediate reports of the cause of Samuels’ death.Kevin Samuels, a self-proclaimed relationship guru and image consultant who is better known for divisive, misogynistic commentary about Black women, in particular, died Thursday at the age of 56, according to reports. There were no immediate reports of the cause of Samuels’ death.

Click To Read More

24. Andrew Woolfolk Earth Wind And Fire, 71

Andrew Woolfolk Earth Wind And Fire, 71 Source:Getty

Andrew Woolfolk, Earth, Wind and Fire 17 March 1982, Wembley Arena. (Photo by Solomon NJie/GettyImages) color image,photography,people,one person,arts culture and entertainment,horizontal,music,uk,london – england,1980-1989,archival,stadium,three quarter length,wembley,andre woolfolk

25. Roderick “Pooh” Clark, 49

Martinez Little, the band’s musical director, paid tribute to Clark on Facebook alongside a photo of the late singer.

“I am saddened to find out that Roderick ‘Pooh’ Clark another member of the famed singing group ‘Hi5’ passed away on Easter Sunday,” Little wrote. “Pooh was the most athletic of them all. In basketball he could stand right under the basket and jump straight up and dunk the ball. Our play fights and Super Soaker battles were epic. We also used to battle each other hard on the Bball court in most cities. I still miss the fun times times touring with my little brothers as Musical Director. My condolences to Hi5 and his family. R.I.P. Pooh”

26. DJ Kay Slay, 55

The Grayson family released a statement, saying “Our hearts are broken by the passing of Keith Grayson, professionally known as DJ Kay Slay. A dominant figure in Hip Hop culture with millions of fans worldwide, DJ Kay Slay will be remembered for his passion and excellence with a legacy that will transcend generations. In memory of DJ Kay Slay, our family wishes to thank all of his friends, fans, and supporters for their prayers and well wishes during this difficult time. We ask that you respect our privacy as we grieve this tragic loss.”

27. Archie Eversole, 37

Archie Eversole, 37 Source:R1

Archie was an Atlanta Georgia native. The rapper was known for his hit ‘We Ready’ & his Gold selling album ‘Ride Wit Me Dirty South Style’ in 2002. The ATL legend was chosen to make the theme song for the Atlanta United  MLS club.

Our condolences go out to Archie Eversole’s friends, family & fans

28. Cedric McMillan, 44

Cedric McMillan, 44 Source:Getty

Cedric McMillan’s sponsor confirmed his passing, saying “We regret to inform you that our friend and brother @cedricmcmillan passed away today. Cedric will be greatly missed as an athlete, comrade, friend, and father. Our prayers are with all his family and friends. He “fought the good fight” and now he rests. – Marcelo Bella”

29. Dwayne Haskins, 24

Dwayne Haskins, 24 Source:Getty

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Dwayne Haskins has died after being stuck by a car in South Florida on Saturday Morning (April 9th). The news was First reported by ESPN Insider Adam Schefter and confirmed by his agent, Cedric Saunders. Haskins was in Florida training with Steelers Quarterbacks, Running backs and Wide Receivers for the upcoming 2022 season.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE

30. AJ Crimson

AJ Crimson Source:Getty

From The Family of AJ Crimson:

AJ Crimson was a makeup industry leader that set a standard of beauty that was elevated, beautiful, and accessible to people of all color. We as a family are heartbroken and devastated by his passing, but thankful for the lessons that he laid on each of us with his truth, directness, and leadership.  We thank you all for your kind words, tweets, and posts, as AJ was an inspiration to us as much as he was a bright light to the rest of the world. There are no words that can sum up his whole. Until we meet again!

_

On behalf of Michele Marie PR, it is with great sadness that we announce the passing of AJ Crimson, Founder and CEO of AJ Crimson Beauty. Our entire team mourns this tragic loss, and our thoughts and prayers are with AJ’s family. Our deepest sympathies go out to them. We absolutely loved AJ, truly one of the sweetest, most humble people we have ever had the pleasure of working with. We are all devastated.

31. Lashun Pace

Lashun Pace Source:Getty

Pace got her start performing with The Anointed Pace Sisters along with her sisters Duranice, Phyllis, June, Melonda, Dejuaii, Leslie, Latrice, and Lydia. Duranice Pace passed away in January 2021 and their mother Bettie Ann Pace in 2020. 

32. Traci Braxton, 50

Traci Braxton, 50 Source:Getty

Traci Braxton, the singer, and member of the famous Braxton Family passed away on Friday (March 11th) after a bout with cancer. TMZ reports that Braxton has been battling cancer for about a year. Her family was by her side at the time of her death.

33. Johnny Brown. 84

Brown played “Nathan Bookman” on the hit show “Good Times” from 1975-1979. Tap to read more

34. Snootie Wild, 36

Snootie first gained the attention of Hip-Hop fans across the nation with the 2014 hit “Yayo,” which featured Yo Gotti. The song eventually peaked at number 30 on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The official remix of “Yayo” was released that same year and featured FabolousFrench MontanaJadakiss and YG.

Click here to learn more

35. Moses J. Moseley

Moses J. Moseley Source:Getty

Moses J. Moseley, an actor who rose to fame on the TV show, “The Walking Dead,” has died. The 31-year-old was found dead in his car in Georgia on Jan. 26 from an gunshot wound to the head. TMZ reported that law enforcement was investigating the death as a suicide but there was no immediate confirmation that was the cause of his death.

36. Bill Owens

Bill Owens Source:Getty

Bill Owens, a real-life trailblazer who was the first Black state senator in Massachusetts history and a civil rights icon in his own right in the Boston area who notably tried to gain traction on the topic of reparations for Massachusetts residents who are descendants of enslaved Black people in the U.S. Owens, died on Jan. 22 at the age of 84.

The Boston Globe reported that Owens had recently been in declining health, including testing positive for COVID-19. However, an official cause of death was not immediately reported.

While Owens was born in Alabama, he put his roots down in Boston, from where the Democrat launched a successful bid for state representative in 1973 before his historic election to the state senate in 1975, a position in which he served multiple terms until his retirement in 1992.

Not only did Owens graduate from high school in Boston, but he also attended and graduated from Boston University, Harvard University and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He also lived in Mattapan, a predominately Black neighborhood in Boston.

Aside from the aforementioned efforts for reparations, Owens was a tireless worker on behalf of Black Boston.

37.

38. Betty Davis

Betty Davis Source:Getty

Pioneering Queen of Funk, singer, Betty Davis, has passed away at the age of 77 from natural causes in Homestead, Pennsylvania.

Betty Davis may have died from natural causes but her body of work was un-naturally trailblazing, as she dropped her self-titled debut album in 1973 for the legendary Woodstock festival followed by “They Say I’m Different” in 1974 then a year later she recorded the album “Nasty Gal.”  Betty Davis paved the way for female artists, with her controversially sexual lyrics and performance style, that was documented in 2017 in, Betty: They Say I’m Different.  Following the documentary Betty: They Say I’m Different, in 2019 Betty Davis released new music for the first time in 40 years, “A Little Bit Hot Tonight”.  Betty Davis’s musical catalog spanned from 1964 to 1975, with Davis penning the Chambers Brothers song “Uptown (to Harlem)” a song that was featured on Questlove’s Oscar-nominated documentary Summer of Soul.

Betty Davis was also the ex-wife of Jazz legend trumpeter Miles Davis, who Betty Davis was credited with introducing Mile Davis’s to the rock and roll era which gave birth to Jazz Fusion with his  1969’s In a Silent Way and 1970’s Bitches Brew.  Betty Davis style and music influenced great artists such as Stevie Wonder, Prince, Lauryn Hill, and  Janelle Monáe.

39. Syl And Jimmy Johnson

Syl And Jimmy Johnson Source:Getty

The soul-lacious Johnson brothers have both died within a week of each other. Jimmy died on January 31, 2022 and Syl died on February 6, 2022. Jimmy died at the age of 93, whilst Syl died at the age of 89.

40. Donny Gerrard

Donny Gerrard Source:Getty

Donny Gerrard died on Thursday, February 3, and had been under hospice care amid a battle with cancer, publicist Bill Carpenter

Vancouver native Donny Gerrard joined the group the ‘Skylark’s’ a pop/rock band in the early ’70s formed by Ronnie Hawkins’s backup groups with the help of legendary composer/arranger David Foster and signed with Capitol Records, releasing a self-titled album in 1972.   “Wildflower” with the lead vocals of Donny Gerrard was the groups biggest hit, reaching number #1 in Canada on the RPM Adult Contemporary chart, it reached number 10 on the Canadian RPM singles chart before making it to the United States peaking at number 9 on Billboard Charts living there for 21 weeks and has sold over a million copies.  “Wildflower” has been covered by many artists, including Color Me Badd, Johnny Mathis, Lisa Fischer, Gary Morris, Creative Source, New Birth, The O’Jays, Marlena Shaw, Lana Wolf, and Silk just to name a few.  ‘Wildflower’ derived from a poem written by one of the members of the Skylark’s however the name of the song is not mentioned anywhere in the song.

41. General Charles McGee

General Charles McGee Source:Getty

Whether you found out about the Tuskegee Airmen in a history book, the 1995 HBO television movie named after them or George Lucas’ criminally-ignored 2012 film Red Tails, it goes without saying that America was indefinitely made proud by the Black men in that legendary squadron.

One of those prestigious gentlemen who fought bravely in World War II was decorated war hero Charles McGee, who we’re sad to say has passed away recently at the age of 102.

McGee died this past Sunday (January 16)  in his sleep at home in Bethesda, Maryland as reported by his son, Ron McGee. He’s credited with flying 409 fighter combat missions over the span of three wars, later in his military career helping to bring attention to the stateside racism against the same Black pilots who fought for America’s freedom.

More on the courageous and honorable life of Charles McGee below, via AP News:

“After the U.S. entry into World War II, McGee left the University of Illinois to join an experimental program for Black soldiers seeking to train as pilots after the Army Air Corps was forced to admit African Americans. In October 1942 he was sent to the Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama for flight training, according to his biography on the website of the National Aviation Hall of Fame.

“You could say that one of the things we were fighting for was equality,” he told The Associated Press in a 1995 interview. “Equality of opportunity. We knew we had the same skills, or better.”

McGee graduated from flight school in June 1943 and in early 1944 joined the all-Black 332nd Fighter Group, known as the “Red Tails.” He flew 136 missions as the group accompanied bombers over Europe.

More than 900 men trained at Tuskegee from 1940 to 1946. About 450 deployed overseas and 150 lost their lives in training or combat.”

McGee stayed with the Army Air Corps (now  U.S. Air Force) for 30 years, going on to serve in record-breaking aerial fighter combat missions which included the Korean War and Vietnam War as well. He eventually retired in 1973 as a colonel in the

42. André Leon Talley

André Leon Talley Source:Getty

André Leon Talley quickly gained his fame and notoriety as the creative director of Vogue as he worked alongside Vogue’s editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour.

As reported by TMZ, Vogue’s former creative director had been in the hospital battling unknown illnesses. Sources say that Talley passed away Tuesday at a hospital in New York.

André was a key component to the vision and overall aesthetic of Vogue in the ’80s and ’90s. He climbed the ladder in the ranks of Vogue’s magazine, becoming the news director from 1983-87 and then in ’88, ascended to Vogue’s creative director.

Talley was also an influential fashion journalist who worked at Women’s Wear Daily and Vogue and was a regular in the front row of fashion shows in New York and Europe. Standing at 6-feet-6 inches tall with a loud personality, bold looks, and originality at its finest, you could not miss, André Leon Talley.

In a 2013 Vanity Fair spread titled “The Eyeful Tower,” Talley was described as “perhaps the industry’s most important link to the past.”

 

43. Lusia Harris

Lusia Harris Source:Getty

Lusia “Lucy” Harris-Stewart, the legendary, barrier-breaking hall of fame basketball player whose largely unknown life story was recently told in a new documentary already being mentioned as an Academy Award contender, has died at the age of 66.

Harris’ death was first reported by journalist Howard Megdal, who attributed the announcement to Ann Meyers Drysdale, the Vice President of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury. Megdal, founder and editor of women’s basketball news website The Next Hoops, called Harris’ death “terribly sad news.”

Delta State University, Harris’ alma mater, confirmed the death and eulogized her in part as “One of the greatest women’s basketball players to ever grace the court.”

The cause of Harris’ death was not immediately reported. She was less than a month shy of her 67th birthday.

Harris was a natural winner in basketball

Not only did Harris win three straight national championships in the 1970s while starring for Delta University in Mississippi, but the dominating center also won a silver medal at the 1976 Summer Olympic Games and was even drafted into the NBA — the first and still only time that the world’s premier professional basketball league selected a woman.

She won three straight national titles at tiny Delta State University in the 1970s, earned a silver medal at the 1976 Olympic Games, and in 1977 became the first woman officially drafted by an NBA team—the New Orleans Jazz. But she made her mark in an era when women’s basketball, and women’s sports in general, didn’t draw much attention.

The best women’s basketball player ever?

While legendary women’s players like Cheryl Miller and Candace Parker have received an outsized amount of attention for their exploits on the hardwood, Harris — who predated both aforementioned stars — managed to fly under the radar despite her impressive statistics. It was a time well before the WNBA, but Harris’ numbers remain undeniable.

By high school, Harris stood at a towering 6-foot-three inches tall. As a high school basketball star, Harris once scored 46 points in a game, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation.

In college, Harris scored a whopping 2,981 in a three-year career for an average of nearly 26 points per game, according to the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame, into which she has been inducted — the first Black woman to enjoy that distinction.

When she left Delta State, Harris was the owner of 15 separate statistical records and had only lost six games compared to the 109 she won. Delta State said Harris remains the school’s career record holder in points and rebounds.

Harris won a silver medal while competing in the 1977 Olympic Games and leading the team in scoring and rebounding. She scored the very first basket of the 1976 Olympics.

Harris displayed the sort of killer instinct on the basketball court that is associated with the game’s greatest players ever.

“When I got the ball, I knew my job was to score, and more than likely, I would score,” Harris once said.

In 1977, the Utah Jazz selected Harris with the 137th pick in the seventh round of the NBA Draft.

While Harris was known as the first woman to ever be officially drafted into the NBA, Denise Long was actually drafted straight out of high school by the then-San Francisco Warriors in 1969. However, because the NBA did not allow girls to play, she ended up playing in the all-women’s Warrior Girls Basketball League and Harris eventually — and technically — became the first woman to be drafted into the all-male NBA.

‘The Queen of Basketball’

More than a nickname, “The Queen of Basketball” is also the title of an independent documentary executive produced by Shaquille O’Neal that tells the previously untold story of Harris’ groundball prowess.

“My goal is to make Lucy a household name,” Shaq said in an interview published just last week. “This woman should be celebrated. It’s never too late to put up a statue or name an arena. Like I said, it’s way overdue for this young lady. I hope she gets her recognition.”

Ben Proudfoot, who directed “The Queen of Basketball” as part of the New York Time Op-docs series, called Harris “absolutely preeminent.” He said Harris’ willing participation was key to the documentary’s accuracy.

“You could zero in on a specific game and Lucy could tell you how it went with the narrative of the game and how she performed,” Proudfoot told Deadline. “Her memory was really at the highest level of recall that I have ever encountered.”

Watch “The Queen of Basketball” below.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPFkcoTfr7g?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en-US&autohide=2&wmode=transparent&w=640&h=360]

44. Ronnie Spector

Ronnie Spector Source:Getty

Ronnie Spector, the pop music singer who rose to fame in the 1960s as part of the girl group the Ronnettes, died Wednesday at the age of 78. The Associated Press reported that Spector’s death came after a battle with cancer. 

Born Veronica Bennett, the New York City native who was raised in Harlem began performing with her older sister, Estelle Bennett, and their cousin Nedra Talley, as the Ronettes in the early 1960s. They were officially discovered after winning the renowned amateur night talent competition at the world-famous Apollo Theater. 

After signing to the record label of music producer Phil Spector — who would later marry Ronnie Spector — the Ronettes turned the world performing the likes of “Be My Baby” and “Walking in the Rain,” two of the group’s signature hit songs. 

According to Biography.com: 

“… the Ronettes cultivated an image modeled on the streetwise women of their Spanish Harlem roots. Spector in particular is now known as “the original bad girl of rock n’ roll”—she and her band mates wore dark mascara and short skirts, which pushed the envelope at that time.” 

Ronnie ultimately went solo in 1964 and enjoyed a career that spanned through 2017, when the Ronettes released their first single in decades. 

She and Phil Spector married in 1968, after which the couple adopted three children. Phil Spector would ultimately die in prison as a convicted murder following their divorce. 

Far Out Magazine recalled the tumultuous relationship the couple had. 

“Phil Spector was the definition of abusive. From the get-go, owing to jealousy and other questionable elements of his ideation, he turned Ronnie into a shadow of her former self. Over the course of their marriage, Phil Spector became as controlling and psychologically dominant as was possible. He turned his 23-room mansion into a maximum-security prison. It boasted chain-link fences, barbed wire and intercoms in every room, making it nigh on impossible for Ronnie to leave. Her husband had come to embody Orwell’s Big Brother.” 

In 1998, the Ronettes sued Phil Spector claiming he owed them more than $10 million in unpaid royalties. 

The New York Times reported at the time: 

“The plaintiffs claim that after recording 28 songs with Mr. Spector, they were paid a pittance in the early 1960’s, and that Mr. Spector has wrongly deprived them of millions, not only from the sale of their records but also from the licensing of their hit songs in commercials and television shows like ”Moonlighting,” and in films like ”Dirty Dancing” and ”Goodfellas.”” 

45. Harvard Law School Professor Lani Guinier

Harvard Law School Professor Lani Guinier Source:Getty

Civil rights lawyer, legal scholar and professor Lani Guinier, whose nomination to serve as the head of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division in President Bill Clinton’s administration was derailed thanks to Republican opposition based on the topic of race, has died at the age of 71. 

She died following complications from Alzheimer’s disease, the Washington Post reported, a citing family member. 

Guinier broke a number of racial barriers in both academia and the legal profession with her work at Ivy League colleges, including Harvard Law School, where she became the first Black woman to be granted tenure. 

On Friday, Harvard Law School Dean John Manning eulogized Guinier in a message to faculty and staff sharing the news of her death. 

“Her scholarship changed our understanding of democracy — of why and how the voices of the historically underrepresented must be heard and what it takes to have a meaningful right to vote. It also transformed our understanding of the educational system and what we must do to create opportunities for all members of our diverse society to learn, grow, and thrive in school and beyond,” Manning wrote in part. 

Despite all of Guinier’s amazing accomplishments in life — including but certainly not limited to being a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University as well as being assistant counsel at the NAACP LDF and serving as special assistant to Assistant Attorney General Drew S. Days in President Jimmy Carter’s administration — she will likely be most remembered for her controversial nomination to serve in the Department of Justice decades later. 

After Clinton nominated Guinier for Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in 1993, Republicans pounced because of her views on race and racial discrimination. As an explainer in The Atlantic pointed out, critical race theory became a part of public discourse during the confirmation hearing. Clinton was consequently accused of not fighting hard enough, or at all, for Guinier’s nomination and ultimately withdrew it. 

A Wall Street Journal op-ed writer went so low as to call Guinier “Clinton’s Quota Queen,” which was just a few racist inches away from calling her a “welfare queen.” 

Guinier, a leading legal mind in the area of alternative voting rights, ending up taking a bullet for the Democratic team. She didn’t protest (too loudly) about the smear job done on her by Republican hatchet men. But she did have some choice words during an NAACP conference following the nomination debacle. 

“I endured the personal humiliation of being vilified as a madwoman with strange hair — you know what that means — a strange name and strange ideas, ideas like democracy, freedom and fairness that mean all people must be equally represented in our political process,” Guinier said at the time. “But lest any of you feel sorry for me, according to press reports the president still loves me. He just won’t give me a job.”

46. James Mtume

James Mtume Source:Getty

Grammy award-winning musician James Mtume reportedly passed away on Sunday, Jan 9 just six days after his 76th birthday. Born James Forman, he was a renowned musician, songwriter, and producer.  

A Philadelphia native, Mtume was exposed to musical greatness from birth as the son of Jazz saxophonist Jimmy Health and stepson of James “Hen Gates” Forman a pianist for Charlie Parker. His love of jazz would continue in his own career joining Miles Davis’ band from 1971-1975 as a percussionist. During that time Mtume recorded three acoustic jazz compositions. 

He later took his eclectic jazz sound, experimenting with digital sounds to create a jazz/R&B/funk blend called “Sophistafunk.” Mtume reached new heights with his self-titled group, recording on the Epic Label from 1978 to 1986.

Their hit single “Juicy Fruit” would go on to become a widely sampled song in the world of Hip Hop. In a 2018 interview with NBC NewsMtume shared that allowing the song to be sampled for “Juicy” by Biggie introduced a new generation to the classic.

He also wrote hit singles for artists like Teddy Pendergrass, Phyllis Hyman, Mary J. Blige and K-Ci & JoJo. Working with guitarist Reggie Lucas, Mtume co-wrote the classic “The Closer I Get to You” sung by Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway. 

“Never Knew Love Like This,” which Mtume wrote for songstress Stephanie Mills, won a Grammy for Best R&B song. 

47. Jessie Lee Daniels

Jessie Lee Daniels Source:Getty

Singer Jessie D. (Jessie Lee Daniels) of The Force MD’s passed away at 57

48. Calvin Simon

On January 6, P-Funk members Bootsie Collins and George Clinton confirmed the death of one their own. One of P-Funk’s original vocalists, Calvin Simon, has died at age 79. Bootsie and George took to social media to announce their friend’s passing.

49. Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier Source:Getty

Oscar-winning actor Sir Sidney Poitier has died. An icon of black cinema, Poitier was also an activist, director, and ambassador to his native home of The Bahamas. His death was confirmed by Bahamian Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell. He was 94 years old.

50. Max Julien

Max Julien Source:Getty

Max Julien, star of “The Mack,” passed away at the age of 88. 

51. Singer Jessie D. (Jessie Lee Daniels) of The Force MD’s

Singer Jessie D. (Jessie Lee Daniels) of The Force MD's Source:Getty

Singer Jessie D. (Jessie Lee Daniels) of The Force MD’s passed away at 57

More From Rickey Smiley Show