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Basketball Pioneer and Hopkins House Alum Passes

February 27, 2015 03:46 PM
Earl Lloyd, the first African-American to play in an NBA game died today.  He was 86 years old.  Lloyd was a Hopkins House alumnus.  He last visited the organization in 2008 when he was the guest of honor at a dinner celebrating his achievements.
Earl Lloyd was born in Alexandria, Virginia on April 3, 1929.  He graduated in 1946 from Parker-Gray High School and went on to graduate in 1950 from West Virginia State College.  That same year he became the first African-American to play in an NBA game with the Washington Capitols and was instrumental in integrating professional basketball as a player and coach.  He was 6 feet 6 inches tall and 220 pounds.
Lloyd led West Virginia State to two C.I.A.A. Conference and Tournament Championships in 1948 and 1949.  He was named All-Conference three times (1948-50) and All-American twice as selected by the Pittsburgh Courier (1949-50).  As a senior, he averaged 14 points and eight rebounds per game while leading West Virginia State to a second place finish in the C.I.A.A. Conference and Tournament Championship. 
In 1947-48, West Virginia State was the only undefeated team in the United States.  As a player, Lloyd enjoyed a solid NBA career with the Washington Capitols, Syracuse nationals and Detroit Pistons.  During Syracuse’s championship season in 1955, Lloyd averaged 10.2 points and 7.7. rebounds per game, becoming, alongside teammate Jim Tucker, the first African-American to win a NBA title. 
In 1968, Lloyd became the NBA’s first African-American assistant coach, joining the staff of the Detroit Pistons.  In 1972, he became the second African-American head coach and first African-American bench coach, again with Detroit.  He coached future Hall of Famers Dave Bing and Bob Lanier.  Later, as a scout, he discovered and recommended such talents as Willis Reed, Earl Monroe, Ray Scott and Wally Jones.  Lloyd was named the C.I.A.A. "Player of the Decade, 1947-56."  He was also named to the All-Time C.I.A.A. All-Tournament Team, the C.I.A.A. Silver Anniversary Team and the NAIA Golden Anniversary Team.  He was voted one of the C.I.A.A.’s 50 Greatest Players and elected to the C.I.A.A. Hall of Fame (1998).
Lloyd fondly recalled his time at Hopkins House as a child.  While visiting in 2008, he remarked that Hopkins House saved "me from the streets" and "motivated me to make something of myself."