Nikki McCray-Penson, a legend in women's basketball, died Friday at age 51.
McCray-Penson was most recently an assistant coach for the Rutgers women's basketball team.
The school announced her death.
Her longest tenure as a coach was beside Dawn Staley at the University of South Carolina from 2008-2017. In McCray-Penson's final season with the Gamecocks, they won a national championship.
McCray starred at the University of Tennessee from 1991 to 1995 and was a two-time SEC Player of the Year. The 1995 Vols lost in the national championship to UConn. She also played nine seasons in the WNBA, was named an All-Star three times and won Olympic gold in 1996 and 2000.
She retired from playing in 2006 and immediately joined Western Kentucky as an assistant until 2008. She was named the C-USA Coach of the Year in 2020, her final season with Old Dominion, where she spent three seasons.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013 while with South Carolina.
McCray-Penson also was the head coach at Mississippi State for the 2020-21 season. Overall, she went 63-48 in her four seasons as a head coach.
"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 was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.