In honor of the recently departed NBA pioneer, Earl Lloyd, the NBA Players Legacy Fund (Fund) has pledged an annual, restricted gift of $45,000 to the NBRPA for the purpose of providing significant financial support to low income recipients of the Dave DeBusschere Scholarship. The Lloyd Scholarship will be available to the children and grandchildren of NBRPA members who have played 3 full years in the NBA and therefore, are eligible to receive assistance from the Fund.
Earl Francis Lloyd - an American professional basketball player, was the first black person to play in the National Basketball Association, in the 1950-1951 NBA season. Earl Lloyd was born in Alexandria, Virginia on April 3, 1928. Being a high school standout, Lloyd was named to the All-South Atlantic Conference three times and the All-State Virginia Interscholastic Conference twice. Lloyd played collegiately at West Virginia State College, and was selected in the ninth-round of the 1950 NBA draft by the Washington Capitols.
Lloyd led West Virginia State to two CIAA Conference and Tournament Championships in 1948 and 1949. He was named All-Conference three times (1948–50) and was an All-American twice, as named by the Pittsburgh Courier. (1949–50). On October 31, 1950, Lloyd became the first African American to play in an NBA game, against the Rochester Royals. Nicknamed "The Big Cat", Lloyd was one of three African-Americans to enter the NBA at the same time. It was only because of the order in which the teams' season openers fell that Lloyd was the first to actually play in a game in the NBA scoring six points that Halloween night. Lloyd played in only seven games for the Washington Capitols before the team folded on January 9, 1951. He was then drafted into the U.S. Army at Fort Sill, Oklahoma before the Syracuse Nationals picked him up on waivers.
Lloyd served time fighting in the Korean War before coming back to basketball. He then spent six seasons with Syracuse and two with the Detroit Pistons before retiring in 1961. Lloyd wasn’t impervious to racism while in the NBA. He recalls being refused service multiple times and was even spit on by a fan in Indiana. Lloyd persevered and said that these instances only pushed him and made him play harder. Lloyd played in over 560 games in nine seasons, the 6-foot-5, 225-pound forward averaged 8.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.