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Venus Lacy (some sources give her name as Venus Lacey), born on February 9, 1967 in Chattanoogamarker, Tennesseemarker, is a former star basketball player, at the high school, college, Olympic and professional levels. A wide-bodied, muscular 6'-4" center, at her best Lacy was an intimidating force inside the paint, both scoring and rebounding. She won championships at every level, but her American professional career was diminished by injuries she sustained in a 1997 car accident.

High School, College and Olympic Career

A local sports heroine (a city parkway is named after her), Lacy led Chattanooga's Brainerd High School to the state championship in 1984.

Venus Lacy attended Louisiana Tech University, which she led to the NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Championship in 1988. The next year, the Lady Techsters made the 1989 Final Four, but lost there to Auburnmarker. In her Senior year, 1990, Louisiana Tech went undefeated through the regular season, and was ranked #1 in the national polls. That year Lacy she was a consensus all-American, and was named the women's college Player of the Year. The 1990 team again made the Final Four, where they were once again upset by their nemesis Auburn. Lacy finished her NCAA career with 266 points scored in the tournament, putting her among the all-time top 10 women at the time.

Lacy was also a member of the gold-medal-winning 1996 Olympic team. Lacy was the last player added to the USA's 12-woman roster, joining the team midway through its year-long exhibition tour to add size in the paint. The team went an undefeated 52-0 in this unprecedented Olympic preparation year, against a variety of college, all-star and international teams.

Professional career

Because the U.S. lacked a women's pro league, Lacy's professional career began overseas, where she played for teams in Greece, Italy and Japan. She led Greece to a European championship in the 1995-1996 season.

Lacy was the first player selected by the Seattle Reign in the ABL Draft on June 19, 1996. From this promising start, her luck seemed to turn sour. Lacy was seriously injured in a car accident on February 4, 1997, and completed her season in Seattle on the injured list. After that year, she was selected by the ABL's expansion Long Beach StingRays. Expansion teams typically fare poorly in their first several years, but this was an exception: Long Beach made the ABL Finals in their first and only season, where they lost the championship to the Columbus Quest, two games to none. Notwithstanding their on-court success, the Long Beach franchise folded after one year, and next year Lacy was once again drafted by another ABL expansion team, the even shorter-lived Nashville Noise. Just 15 games into the 1998-1999 season, on December 22, 1998, the ABL itself folded.

No doubt due to her injuries, Lacy went undrafted by any WNBA team in the special post-ABL consolidation draft. However, midway through the 1999 season, Lacy was picked up by the New York Liberty to fill in for their injured All-star center, Rebecca Lobo. Lacy played in 17 games that year for the Liberty, and in 2 more in 2000, but without much success. She has not played in the WNBA since.

Cultural references

  • The name "Venus Lacy" was used as the title of a song by Team Dresch, a queercore (lesbian/feminist punk rock) band based in Portland, Oregon. Her name was likely chosen because of the contrast between its traditional feminine allusions (goddess of beauty + adjective associated with lingerie) and Lacy's physically imposing presence.

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