Nikki Kesangane McCray-Penson, a former American basketball player and coach, passed away on July 7, 2023, at the age of 51. She was a well-respected figure in the basketball world, known for her impressive career as a professional player and her dedication as a coach. McCray-Penson served as the head coach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs women’s basketball team from 2020 to 2021 and played in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) for eight seasons. Throughout her career, she made significant contributions to the sport and earned accolades for her achievements.
This article delves into the personal life of Nikki McCray-Penson, exploring her husband, the cause of her death, and the lasting impact she leaves behind.
Know About Nikki McMray’s Cause of Death
In 2013, McCray-Penson was diagnosed with breast cancer while serving as an assistant coach for the South Carolina Gamecocks. Despite her personal struggle, she remained committed to the sport she loved and continued to contribute to the team’s success. Unfortunately, her recent passing was attributed to secondary complications related to breast cancer, according to Robert Penson, her cousin.
News of Nikki McCray-Penson’s passing came as a shock to the basketball community, prompting an outpouring of condolences from colleagues, former players, and fans. Mike Thibault, former coach of the Washington Mystics, expressed his condolences, saying, “The entire Mystics family is saddened by the passing of Nikki McCray-Penson. Our deepest sympathies go out to her husband, Thomas, and her son, Thomas, as well as all of her extended family.” McCray-Penson was widely loved and admired, not only for her skills on the court but also for the joy she brought to those around her.
Meet Nikki McCray’s Husband, Thomas Penson
Nikki McCray-Penson’s husband, Thomas Penson, played a vital role in her life and career. They shared a strong bond that was nurtured during their time at the University of Tennessee, where Nikki studied and played basketball while Thomas pursued his degree in electrical engineering.
Thomas Penson, the husband of Nikki McCray-Penson is an electrical engineering graduate who later worked for Kendal Electric. Their relationship blossomed, leading them to tie the knot on March 30, 2002, and embark on a journey of love and partnership that lasted for 21 years.
Throughout Nikki’s battle with breast cancer, Thomas stood by her side, offering unwavering support and becoming an integral part of her journey. He actively participated in cancer-related events and demonstrated his dedication by joining Nikki and their son in a memorable lap around the court, wearing pink to show solidarity with breast cancer survivors. Thomas Penson’s commitment and presence throughout their marriage exemplify a deep love and unwavering support that was the foundation of their relationship.
Nikki McCray’s Remarkable Basketball Career
Nikki McCray-Penson‘s career spanned both the American Basketball League (ABL) and the WNBA. She began her journey at the University of Tennessee, where she played under the guidance of Hall of Fame coach Pat Summitt. McCray-Penson went on to have a successful professional career, winning gold medals with the U.S. women’s basketball team in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics. Her involvement in the 1996 Olympics was particularly significant, as it played a pivotal role in the establishment of the WNBA and ABL. She later joined the Washington Mystics in the WNBA and became a three-time All-Star during her time with the team.
Remembering Nikki McCray-Penson
The Washington Mystics released a statement in honor of McCray-Penson, praising her relentless dedication to the game and the impact she had on those around her. They said, “She was a fan favorite here in D.C. and brought joy to those lucky enough to be in her large circle of friends and admirers.” Her former coach, Mike Thibault, also added, “Rest in peace, Nikki.” McCray-Penson’s legacy extends beyond her playing career, as she transitioned seamlessly into coaching after retiring from the WNBA in 2006. She held coaching positions at various institutions, including Western Kentucky, Old Dominion, and Mississippi State, where she made notable contributions.