Earl Lloyd Dies: First Black Player to Appear in NBA Dead at 86

February 26, 2015 Updated: July 18, 2015

Earl Lloyd, the first black player to appear in an NBA game, has died.

He was 86. According to WXYZ-Detroit, he died on Thursday.

In a previous interview, Lloyd recalled the difficulty in being the only black player in the league.

“(Fans) would say stuff like, ‘Go back to Africa,'” Lloyd told NBA.com.”And I’m telling you, you would often hear the N-word. That was commonplace. There were a lot of people who sat close to you who gave you the blues, man.”

Lloyd started his career in 1950, playing for the Washington Capitols. He later played for the Syracuse Nationals and later, the Detroit Pistons.

He also coached for the Pistons in the early 1970s.

Nicknamed “The Big Cat,” Lloyd won his single NBA championship with the Nationals in 1955.

Lloyd, who was 6 ft 5 and weighed 225 pounds, was a small forward.