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Earl Lloyd, NBA's First African-American Player, Dies at 86

FILE - Earl Lloyd, center, is honored by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, left, and Atlanta Hawks Vice President Dominique Wilkins during a halftime ceremony at an NBA game between Miami and Atlanta, Feb. 12, 2012.

Earl Lloyd, who broke U.S. professional basketball's color barrier when he became the first African-American to play in the National Basketball Association, died Thursday at age 86. The cause of his death was not disclosed.

Lloyd, a Virginia native who lived in Crossville, Tennessee, made sports history when he entered a game for the now-defunct Washington Capitols on October 31, 1950.

The game failed to make any headlines because pro basketball was a young sport in 1950, overshadowed by baseball, golf and college football.

But Lloyd opened the door for thousands of black players to come, including some of the biggest names to ever play any professional sport.

The 1.98 meters tall Lloyd, who was just short of 2 meters tall (about 6 1/2 feet), was drafted into the Army after just seven games with the Capitols. He later played for pro teams in Detroit and Syracuse, New York, and was head coach of the Detroit Pistons from 1971 to 1972.

He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003.

Some information for this report came from AP.