Nikki McCray, an American basketball player and coach, served as the head coach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs women’s basketball team from 2020 to 2021. Prior to her coaching career, she had a successful professional basketball journey spanning from 1996 to 2006, where she competed for eight seasons in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA).
Height- 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight- 158 lb (72 kg)
Born- December 17, 1971
Birthplace- Collierville, Tennessee, U.S.
Full name- Nikki Kesangane McCray-Penson
Death- July 7, 2023 (aged 51)
Profession- Basketball Player And Coach
Spouse- Thomas Penson
Harry Minium’s article highlights the shared journey of ODU women’s basketball coach Nikki McCray-Penson and her mother, Sally Coleman, as they bravely confronted breast cancer.
Thomas Penson, the husband of Nikki McCray, proposed to her during one of her league basketball games.
Nikki McCray leaves behind a ten-year-old son.
A guard measuring 5 feet 11 inches (1.80 m) from the University of Tennessee, McCray had a successful career in the WNBA, playing for various teams including the Washington Mystics, Indiana Fever, Phoenix Mercury, San Antonio Silver Stars, and Chicago Sky. She achieved the honor of being selected for three WNBA All-Star teams in 1999, 2000, and 2001, while also amassing a total of 2,550 career points. Before joining the WNBA in 1998, she showcased her talent in the now-defunct American Basketball League, where she was recognized as the Most Valuable Player for the 1996-97 season.
McCray’s basketball prowess extended to the international stage as well. She earned gold medals at the 1996 and 2000 Summer Olympics and represented the United States in the 1998 FIBA World Championship. Renowned for her exceptional defensive skills, she gained recognition in women’s basketball by successfully guarding and neutralizing several top players from around the world.
Additionally, McCray received accolades beyond her playing career. In 2000, she was appointed as a member of the President’s Fitness Council and was chosen to be a part of the 2000 USA Olympic basketball team.
McCray, who previously served as an assistant coach at the University of South Carolina, found a new home for herself at the same university, alongside her former teammate Dawn Staley, who assumed the role of head coach. Staley expressed her admiration for McCray, stating that she possesses a strong desire for success, which she attributes to McCray’s experience playing at Tennessee, where the expectation was always to strive for the top position in any endeavor. Staley appreciates having individuals with such a mindset around her. She further praised McCray for her energy, confidence, and ability to connect with others, all essential qualities in coaching and recruiting. The two coaches also shared the experience of participating in two Olympic Games and achieving success on the grandest stage. However, McCray resigned from her position as head coach at Mississippi State in October 2021, citing health reasons.
Nikki McCray made a name for herself in both sports and community service. In 2000, President Bill Clinton personally chose her to join the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Additionally, she was selected by the Library of Congress in 1999 to deliver the keynote address for Women’s History Month, recognizing her as a role model for young people.
- Two-time Olympic gold medalist (1996, 2000) with the United States women’s basketball team.
- Two-time WNBA All-Star (1999, 2000) during her professional basketball career.
- NCAA National Player of the Year (1995) while playing for the University of Tennessee Lady Vols.
- Two-time SEC Female Athlete of the Year (1995, 1996) in college basketball.
- Inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012.
Net Worth 2023
Nikki McCray’s net worth in 2023 amounts to an impressive $20.3 million.
Cause Of Death
The Mississippi State community is filled with sorrow as they grieve the loss of former women’s basketball head coach, Nikki McCray-Penson, who passed away at the age of 51.
Dr. Mark Keenum, the President of Mississippi State University, expressed the university’s condolences, stating that the entire national college basketball community joins them in mourning
Coach Nikki McCray-Penson’s sudden and tragic passing. Despite enduring significant health challenges during her time as the women’s basketball coach, Nikki’s courage and dedication to her players and the university left a lasting impression. Throughout her tenure at Mississippi State, Coach McCray-Penson worked tirelessly to advance the university and the state of Mississippi. Her death has deeply saddened Dr. Keenum and his wife, Rhonda, and they are keeping her family and friends in their thoughts and prayers.
Beyond her coaching career, Nikki McCray-Penson was a loving wife and mother, and her impact on women’s basketball was profound. Her accomplishments on the court were remarkable, leading to her induction into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012. Throughout her professional career, she won two Olympic Gold Medals in 1996 and 2000, played nine seasons in the WNBA with three All-Star appearances, and earned the title of ABL MVP while winning the 1997 ABL Championship.
Head coach Sam Purcell expressed profound sadness over the loss of Nikki McCray-Penson, highlighting her exceptional coaching abilities and leadership qualities, but emphasizing that she was also a loving mother and wife. The thoughts and prayers of the basketball community are with Nikki and her family during this difficult time.