In 1950 Earl Lloyd broke down racial barriers when he debuted in the NBA with the Washington Capitals. He was the first black player in the history of the NBA, and on Thursday the 86-year-old Lloyd passed away.
According to ESPN, Lloyd's alma mater, West Virginia State, confirmed his death but did not note how he died.
"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," West Virginia State President Brian Hemphill said in a statement viewed by ESPN. "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."
According to the sport site, in 1955, Lloyd, then with the Syracuse Nationals, and teammate Jim Tucker were the first black players to win an NBA title.
ESPN notes that the "6-foot-5 forward averaged 8.4 points and 6.4 rebounds in 560 regular-season games" and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003.
Lloyd was a native of Alexandria, Va., who was living in Crossville, Tenn.
Read more at ESPN.