ALEXANDRIA, VA—Sat. On April 2, the city hosted a state historic marker dedication honoring the late Alexandria and NBA legend Earl Francis Lloyd. The marker is at 1020 Montgomery St. The sign was officially approved on September 21, 2021, and just 5 months later the sign was unveiled, with official statements written by Congressman Beyer and Senator Warner.
Mayor Wilson also remarked, “This is an exciting place, an opportunity for us to celebrate a truly important figure in Alexandria’s history. Alexandria has a lot of people who have come from this community and done amazing things all over the world, but what was special about Earl Lloyd is that he never forgot where he came from .
Lloyd was born in Alexandria in 1928, earned a scholarship to West Virginia State University in 1946, then was drafted into the NBA in 1950 by the Washington Capitols. On October 31, 1950, Lloyd officially broke the color barrier into professional basketball by becoming the first African American to play in an NBA game.
Today, this historic marker pays homage to Lloyd’s life and legacy as an African-American and Alexandrian basketball player.
Audrey Davis, director of the Alexandria Black History Museum, said: “When I think of the history of African Americans, I think of what has been lost, of images, of homes. This is why historical markers are so important. When you see a marker, remember the struggle, remember the triumphs and the millions of anonymous African Americans who helped make this country great.
Lloyd attended the Parker-Gray School, so the historical marker located in his childhood home in the Parker-Gray neighborhood is both an honor for his individual history as well as the accumulation of history in the Alexandria district.
According to the State Review Board, since the first official installation of historical markers in 1927, Virginia has erected more than 2,500 signs across the Commonwealth, and in the past five years, 53% of those markers have focused on the African American history. Earl Lloyd’s historical marker boosts this stat.
Lloyd’s nephew, Reginal Francis Lloyd, honored his uncle’s story moment by saying, “Not to take away from Jackie Robinson, but [Earl] is not the Jackie Robinson of basketball; He’s the Earl Lloyd of basketball. The Lloyd family and I would like to thank everyone who played a part in this story today.
The marker indicates:
Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Earl Lloyd grew up in this neighborhood, attended Parker-Gray High School and graduated from West Virginia State College. On October 31, 1950, as a member of the Washington Capitols, he became the first African American to play in a National Basketball Association game. After serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, he played for the Syracuse Nationals, which won the NBA Championship in 1955. Lloyd, known for his defense and rebounding, ended his playing career in 1960 with the Detroit Pistons. He became the NBA’s first African-American assistant coach (1960) and fourth African-American head coach (1971), both with the Pistons.