Earl Lloyd, First Black NBA Player, Dies At 86

By Staff  |  02/27/2015

Earl Lloyd

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

Details surrounding his death were unknown, but West Virginia State, where he attended college, confirmed his passing.

"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," West Virginia State president Brian Hemphill said in a statement. "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 made his NBA debut in 1950 for the Washington Capitals, just before fellow black players Sweetwater Clifton and Chuck Cooper played their first games. He would go on to help the Syracuse Nationals win the 1955 NBA title, joining teammate Jim Tucker as the first black players to play on a championship team.

He averaged 8.4 points and 6.4 rebounds in 560 regular-season games in nine seasons with Washington, Syracuse and Detroit.

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