When Nikki McCray-Penson lost her battle with breast cancer in July, the news of her death shook the WNBA community. Shortly after her passing, the Washington Mystics revealed a video that showed General Manager Mike Thibault calling Penson to share that the team planned on inducting her in their Hall of Fame.
Although Penson did not make it to participate in the ceremony, it was quite serendipitous that the neither party was aware of what was about to take place in the coming months. Ultimately, her life was celebrated at Sunday’s Mystics game against the Dallas Wings.
During the induction ceremony at halftime, attendees heard remarks from Mystics legends Chamique Holdsclaw and Murriel Page. The team also played a tribute video narrated by Dawn Staley. The ceremony wrapped up with a jersey presentation to the Penson family and the banner unveil.
“Our Hall of Fame celebration for Nikki was an event that she was so excited about and looking forward to,” Mike Thibault said. “We all wish so much that she could be here with us to celebrate. I’m glad that her family and friends will be here to see her honored for her Mystics legacy and be remembered for the wonderful person and player that she was.”
Over her nine-year career in the WNBA, McCray-Penson played four seasons with the Mystics (1998-2001) and helped lead the team to its first playoff appearance in 2000. She was a three-time WNBA All-Star (1999, 2000, 2001) with all three appearances as a member of the Mystics. McCray was also a two-time Olympic gold medalist as a member of the 1996 and 2000 USA Basketball teams.
McCray-Penson finished her career with the Mystics averaging 15.4 points per game, 2.3 rebounds per game, 2.4 assists per game and 1.2 steals per game. She scored 1921 total points with the Mystics, which currently sits eighth all-time in team history.
The halftime celebration also included the dedication of a $100,000 scholarship fund in Nikki McCray’s name, donated by Monumental Sports & Entertainment Chairman & CEO, Ted Leonsis. The fund will be administered through the D.C. College Access Program (DC-CAP) and used to support two African American female students each year over the next 10 years.
McCray-Penson, who passed away on July 7, 2023, after battling breast cancer, will join Vicky Bullett, Holdsclaw and Page as members of the Mystics Hall of Fame.
Several Mystics alum were in attendance including Vicky Bullett (2000-02), Penny Moore (1998-99), Rita Williams (1998-99), Markita Aldridge (1999-01) and Tausha Mills (2000-02). Other special guests included former Mystics and Wizards Executive Judy Holland and former Mystics Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Krissy Kahler (98-02).
All fans in attendance received a t-shirt featuring McCray’s name and number. In celebration of her legacy, the number 15 decal was featured on the Mystics court and on player jerseys.