Nikki McCray, a former professional women’s basketball player and the former head coach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs women’s basketball team, passed away unexpectedly. Keep reading to know more about Nikki McCray and his cause of death in detail.
Who was Nikki McCray?
Nikki Kesangane McCray-Penson was a former professional women’s basketball player and the former head coach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs women’s basketball team. For eight seasons, she competed in the WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association).
McCray played for the Chicago Sky, the San Antonio Silver Stars, the Phoenix Mercury, the Indiana Fever, and the Washington Mystics. She amassed 2,550 points throughout her career and was selected to three WNBA All-Star teams (1999, 2000, and 2001).
She was a star in the now-defunct American Basketball League before joining the WNBA in 1998. McCray won the 1996–97 American Basketball League Most Valuable Player award while competing in the league.
McCray has experience competing internationally in basketball. She competed for America’s 1998 FIBA World Championship team and won gold medals at the 1996 and 2000 Summer Olympics. By stopping some of the finest players in the world, she established herself as a top defender in women’s basketball.
She was picked for the 2000 USA Olympic basketball squad and was appointed to the President’s Fitness Council in 2000.
McCray previously served as South Carolina University’s assistant coach. At the University of South Carolina, where Dawn Staley, a former colleague, served as head coach, she established a new home for herself.
Staley said about McCray:
“Nikki is hungry for success, and that comes from playing at Tennessee where the coach never settles for anything less than being number one at whatever she’s doing. That mentality is instilled in Nikki, and I want people around me like that. She is energetic, confident and engaging – all qualities that you need when you’re coaching and recruiting. We spent two Olympic Games together and have shared being successful in the very best arena there is to test yourself.”
In October 2021, she announced her resignation as Mississippi State’s head coach, citing health concerns.
McCray made a reputation for herself in the world of community service in addition to her career on the court. President Bill Clinton personally chose Nikki McCray to join the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports in the year 2000. Nikki McCray was chosen by The Library of Congress to deliver the Women’s History Month Address’s keynote address in 1999.
Federal Women’s Program Manager Jean Parker said, “We are pleased to have Ms. McCray with us to kick-off our month long celebration of women’s history. As an employee of the first women’s professional basketball team in the nation’s capital and through her community service, Ms. McCray is a wonderful role model for young people.”
How did Nikki McCray die?
Nikki McCray, a former professional women’s basketball player and the former head coach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs women’s basketball team, passed away on Friday, July 7, 2023, at the age of 51.
We are saddened to hear of the passing of Lady Vol great and 3x #WNBA All-Star with the Washington Mystics, Nikki McCray. RIP 🧡🕊
2012 WBHOF inductee
2x Olympic 🥇🇺🇸
1998 World Championship 🥇 pic.twitter.com/hfQIb391jB
— AllThingsWNBA (@AllThingsWNBA) July 7, 2023
The funeral arrangements for Nikki McCray will be made public at a later time, according to the family. This suggests that the family is making preparations and will give the required information about his passing and the planned burial ceremony as soon as possible.
Nikki McCray cause of death
We’re sorry to have to inform you that Nikki McCray has passed away. After a second battle with breast cancer, Nikki McCray passed away.
In November 2013, while having a shower, McCray-Penson felt a lump on her breast. This was the beginning of her battle with breast cancer.
She shared what she had discovered with another assistant coach while working as a runner-up at South Carolina under Dawn Staley. She was pushed to visit the doctor on Monday after being urged to do so on Friday over the bump.
Long-term testing on McCray-Penson included a biopsy and an ultrasound. She was given a breast cancer diagnosis the next day.
“I think for about one hour, I cried for every single second — hard,”
“After that, (I) just started to have a plan of attack. Got a team together that gave me a lot of confidence. Got a lot of opinions about which way to go, and I never looked back. I didn’t allow cancer to define me.”
McCray-Penson had a dangerous combination of therapies in the weeks that followed, including chemotherapy and radiation.
Staley and deputy head coach Lisa Boyer were by McCray-Penson’s side throughout her chemotherapy treatments.
Boyer told The Dispatch in April,
“She was as brave as anyone could be,”
“She was really a fighter. I can’t say enough about her … will to fight through things and to handle the situation. She never brought that to the office. She never missed a day at work.”
The bond between Staley and McCray-Penson then started during their sixth season in Columbia and went all the way back to the mid-1990s Olympic teams for the United States.
Staley watched over McCray-Penson closely throughout each of her treatments. To guarantee that McCray-Penson could be a presence on the pitch, she organized practices around his appointments.
“(Staley) kept it normal for me,”
“And I just really appreciate that because being in a chair (receiving chemo) and them being at practice would’ve been hard, especially for six months you’re doing that.”
Nikki McCray mother’s (second) battle:
The revelation that Nikki McCray’s Coleman had received a breast cancer diagnosis in 2006 was surprising. When Nikki McCray received a second diagnosis in 2018, the effect was even more profound.
McCray-Penson, however, took a leave of absence to be with her mother after she was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time. Coleman enrolled in Collierville’s hospice program in the months that followed. McCray-Penson cared for her mother, exactly as Staley and Boyer had done for her, from April until her passing in July.
When family members came to visit in her last months, Coleman told her daughter and them a tonne of stories. Instead of sadness, laughter and smiles were there throughout a period that may have been depressing. Each dwindling second was treasured.
In October 2021, McCray made the challenging decision to step down as head coach at Mississippi State, which changed the course of her coaching career. She put her health first and took a leave of absence from her coaching duties due to this. Although it was a difficult decision, McCray understood the value of looking after her needs in terms of health.
Tributes to Nikki McCray
Many people expressed their profound sympathies to her family and expressed how much they loved her.
Rickey wrote: “Very sad to see this message this morning. Nikki was one of my dad’s Richard favorite players. He went to all of her High School games and followed her during her time at Tennessee. She is a member of the Collierville High School Sports Hall of Fame, the Tennessee State Sports Hall of Fame and the Women’s basketball Hall of Fame. Such a great talent and teacher gone to soon. RIP Nikki McCray”
Female Athlete Network wrote: “Rest In Peace Nikki MCCray-Penson. Nikki’s cousin announced on twitter that Nikki has passed away. Nikki had a long battle with cancer. Nikki was a 3x WNBA All Star with the Washington Mystics, 2012 Womens Basketball HOF Inductee, 2x Olympian, and 1998 World Champion.”
One of the worst things anyone can go through in life is losing a loved one. Any journey must have a destination at the end. The person’s time on earth has regrettably come to an end now that they have died. We wish her eternal peace and send our thoughts and prayers to her loved ones, family, friends.
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Rohini (Editor) is a content writer with 3 years of experience in content writing. She joined Medico Topics on the Breaking News trainee scheme in 2022 and now works on MedicoTopics.com. She possesses a keen interest in political and entertainment matters, including the latest and most widely circulating celebrity rumors, and comprehensive resources on the wealth of renowned actors, athletes, players, and politicians around the globe.