Reigning WNBA MVP and former South Carolina Gamecocks star A’ja Wilson at a memorial service for ladies’s basketball legend Nikki McCray-Penson. Heartfelt put up on social media. McCray Penson, 51, died Friday.
The guts appears to be like like loopy on it! ???? Such a fighter and the sweetest light soul warrior! Coach McCray you’ve helped me in so some ways and also you had been a real present from God! Can be actually missed! No extra ache, no extra ache! God discovered a very good one ???? #Orange pic.twitter.com/zRCu4zXXdv
— A’ja Wilson (@_ajawilson22) July 7, 2023
A two-time Olympic gold medalist and three-time WNBA All-Star, McCray-Penson first rose to prominence on the College of Tennessee within the mid-Nineteen Nineties. He received the MVP of the now-defunct American Basketball League in 1996-97 earlier than becoming a member of the WNBA for his second season the next yr, the place McCray-Penson shortly established himself whereas starring for the Washington Mystics. He was included among the many finest gamers within the league.
The 5’11 guard retired in 2006, instantly transitioning into teaching. McCray-Penson started her profession as an assistant at Western Kentucky, then joined the South Carolina workers in 2008, the place she was an assistant underneath longtime pal Don Staley. In 2017, McCray-Penson’s last season at Columbia, Wilson led the Gamecocks to this system’s first nationwide championship.
McCray-Penson was the pinnacle coach at Outdated Dominion from 2017 to 2020, when she received Convention USA Coach of the Yr honors, then took the reins at Mississippi State earlier than stepping down in October 2021 for well being causes. She returned to teaching for the 2022-23 season, becoming a member of Coquese Washington’s workers at Rutgers.
McCray-Penson was identified with breast most cancers in 2013, though the reason for her loss of life remains to be unknown. She is survived by her husband, Thomas, and 10-year-old son, Thomas Jr.