Professional Basketball Player + Hall of Famer
West Virginia State University Alumnus


Nicknamed “The Big Cat,” West Virginia State University alumnus Earl Francis Lloyd was one of three African Americans to desegregate the National Basketball Association.

In 1950. A high school standout in his native Virginia, Earl Lloyd was named to the All-South Atlantic Conference three times, and the All-State Virginia Interscholastic Conference twice, before receiving a scholarship to play basketball at West Virginia State College. Known as “Moon Fixer” because of his towering 6 foot 5 height, and expertise as a defensive specialist, Lloyd led the Yellow Jackets to two CIAA Conference and Tournament Championships in 1948 and 1949, and was named All-American twice and named All-Conference three times. The only undefeated collegiate team in the United States during the 1947-48 season, Lloyd later led West Virginia State to a second place finish in the CIAA Conference and Tournament Championship as a senior. The second black player to be drafted by a NBA team, Lloyd donned his Washington Capitols’s uniform as the first black player to take to the NBA court on October 31, 1950. He scored six points that game but played in only seven games for the Capitols before the team folded in January 1951. Drafted into the U.S. Army at Fort Still, Lloyd fought in the Korean War before he returned to the NBA as a player for the Syracuse Nationals from 1952-1958. He helped them win a championship in 1955 before completing his playing career with the Detroit Pistons from 1958-1960. In 1968, he rejoined the Pistons as their first African American assistant coach and was head coach from 1971-1972. Inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003, Lloyd, who died on February 26, 2015, recalled being refused service multiple times and was even spit on by a fan in Indiana. Lloyd’s own words characterized these challenges best: “In 1950, basketball was like a babe in the woods; it didn’t enjoy the notoriety that baseball enjoyed.”

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