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Earl Lloyd


Earl Lloyd, West Virginia State

Lloyd led West Virginia State to two Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Conference and Tournament Championships in 1948 and 1949. He was named All-Conference three times (1948–50) and was All-American twice.  As a senior, he averaged 14 points and 8 rebounds per game, while leading West Virginia State to a second-place finish in the CIAA Conference and Tournament Championship. In 1947–48, West Virginia State was the only undefeated team in the United States, with a 30-0 record. 

Earl Lloyd was the first African American player to have played a game in the National Basketball Association (NBA).  Lloyd’s NBA debut came on October 31, 1950, with the Washington Capitols. Earl only played seven games with Washington before being drafted into military service. When he was discharged in 1952, the Caps had folded and his playing rights had been acquired by Syracuse.

Lloyd would spend six seasons with the Nats – making him the first black player in franchise history – and was a starter on the 1955 team that won the franchise’s first championship. Lloyd and teammate Jim Tucker were the first African Americans to win an NBA title.  Lloyd also became the first black assistant coach in the NBA, and was the second black Head Coach in the NBA.

Lloyd’s accomplishments have been recognized throughout the years by a variety of different groups in a variety of different ways. He was inducted into the national Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003. He has also been honored with induction into the West Virginia State University Hall of Fame, the state of Virginia Athletic Hall of Fame, the state of West Virginia Athletic Hall of Fame, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame, the Black College Alumni Hall of Fame and the Parker-Gray High School Hall of Fame. He was named to the CIAA Silver Anniversary Team and was voted as one of the CIAA’s 50 Greatest Players, and was named as the CIAA Player of the Decade for the 1940’s.  In 2001, the Congressional Black Caucus Policy and Leadership Institute bestowed the inaugural “Legends of Black History” Sports Award on Lloyd, and in 2008 the U.S. House of Representatives honored Lloyd with a Congressional Resolution. In 2007, the newly constructed basketball court at T.C. Williams High School in Lloyd’s home town of Alexandria, Va., was named in his honor.  Lloyd's remarkable story is the subject of the documentary film “The First To Do It."

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