Earl Lloyd, the first African-American to play in a National Basketball Association game, has died at the age of 86, AFP reports.
Friends of the Lloyd family called the WXYZ television station in Detroit to report Lloyd’s death, which was later confirmed by his alma mater, West Virginia State University.
“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,” university president Brian Hemphill said in a statement, which did not give a cause of death.
“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 first NBA appearance with the Washington Capitols on October 31, 1950.
At the time of his retirement, Lloyd was 43rd on the NBA career scoring list with 4,682 points.
He went on to coach the Pistons from 1971-72, and was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 2003.