ALEXANDRIA,VA-native EARL LLOYD (APRIL 3, 1928 - FEBRUARY 26, 2015), the FIRST BLACK PLAYER in NBA HISTORY, passed away Thursday, February 26, at the age of 86.
ESPN reports NBA Commissioner ADAM SILVER said;
"The NBA family has lost one of its patriarchs. Earl Lloyd, the first African-American to play in an NBA game, was as inspirational as he was understated. He was known as a modest gentleman who played the game with skill, class, and pride. His legacy survives in the league he helped integrate, and the entire NBA family will strive to always honor his memory. Our deepest condolences to the Lloyd family."
EARL LLOYD played college ball for the WEST VIRGINIA STATE UNIVERSITY YELLOW JACKETS and made his NBA debut in 1950 with the WASHINGTON CAPITOLS just before CHUCK COOPER, HANK DeZONIE, and NAT SWEETWATER CLIFTON joined the ranks of NBA Players.
WEST VIRGINA STATE UNIVERSITY President BRIAN HEMPHILL said;
"The State family mourns the loss of a fellow Yellow Jacket and trailblazer who was a true champion both on and off of the basketball court. When Earl stepped out on the court on that fateful date in 1950, this remarkable man rightfully earned his place in the historic civil rights movement and, more important, he opened the door to equality in America."
Lloyd helped the Syracuse Nationals win the 1955 NBA CHAMPIONSHIP, joining teammate JIM TUCKER as the FIRST BLACK PLAYERS To WIN An NBA CHAMPIONSHIP.
The 6-foot-5 forward averaged 8.4 points and 6.4 rebounds in 560 regular-season games in nine seasons with Washington, Syracuse and Detroit. He missed the 1951-52 season while serving in the U.S. Army.
During the 1971-1972 season, EARL LLOYD later became the FIRST BLACK HEAD COACH in the NBA, leading the DETROIT PISTONS to a record of 22-55, and through the first nine games pf the 1972-73 season.
In 2003, he was inducted into the BASKETBALL HALL OF fAME.
At the time of his passing, he lived in Crossville, TN.
A great friend, mentor and person, #EarlLloyd passed away today. #mymentor #1stblack @nba @TurnerSportsEJ @Sixers pic.twitter.com/5CmIi3oR5W
— O.C. (@OCChamberlain) February 26, 2015
RIP to Mr. Earl Lloyd you opened that ever so important door for all African American athletes. Thank You!!!! 🙏's up to your family
— Vince Carter (@mrvincecarter15) February 27, 2015