Earl Lloyd, First African-American Player in the NBA, Dies at 86

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Earl Lloyd, the first black player in NBA history, died Thursday (Feb. 26) at the age of 86.

West Virginia State, Lloyd’s alma mater, confirmed the death and had no details.

NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, said in a statement:

“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.”

Lloyd made his NBA debut in 1950 for the Washington Capitals, and years later helped the Syracuse Nationals win the 1955 NBA title.

Playing for Washington, Syracuse and Detroit, the 6-foot-5 forward averaged 8.4 points and 6.4 rebounds in nine seasons.

Lloyd missed the 1951-52 season to serve in the U.S. Army.

The pioneer was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003 as a contributor.

R.I.P. Earl.