Earl Lloyd, the first black player to break into the National Basketball Association, has died at the age of 86.
Lloyd was a pioneer who joined the league in 1950 and helped pave the way for other black athletes in the sport. He played for the Washington Capitals, and right after he began playing, two other black players joined the league, Sweetwater Clifton and Chuck Cooper.
An outpouring of condolences came from not only the NBA and it’s players, but from college players and institutions alike. West Virginia State, Lloyd’s alma mater, released a statement calling him “a true champion on and off the court,” and added that he was a “remarkable man” who “rightfully earned his place in the historic civil rights movement” and “opened the door to equality in America.”
Many African-American basketball players, current and retired, expressed their condolences to Lloyd’s family via social media and thanked him for what he meant to the league and to the civil rights movement.