Drafted by the Washington Capitols in 1950, Virginia native Earl Lloyd became the first African American to play in the National Basketball Association in a game against the Rochester Royals (now Sacramento Kings) during the 1950-51 season. Alongside Nathaniel “Sweetwater” Clifton, Hank DeZonie, and Chuck Cooper, who was the first Black man to be drafted in the NBA, Lloyd is part of a handful of African American players to appear in the league during the 1950-51 season.
A small forward, Lloyd played in the NBA for nine seasons until he became the first African American assistant coach with the Detroit Pistons (1968), and the NBA’s fourth African American head coach with the same team in 1971. For breaking racial barriers and his many contributions to sports history in America, the trailblazing baller was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts in 2003.
On February 26, 2015, Mr. Earl Lloyd died at the age of 86. Despite his passing, he remains a groundbreaking figure in both entertainment and Black history. #RIP #LEGEND