LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Los Angeles Lakers legend Elgin Baylor has died. He was 86.
His death from natural causes was announced by the team Monday morning. Baylor’s wife, Elaine, and daughter, Krystal, were at his side when he died.READ MORE: The Debate About Ending Mask Mandates Heats Up, With Some Experts Saying It's Time To Unmask Parts Of The Country
Baylor was one of the few players whose career with the team spanned Minneapolis, where the Lakers originated, to where they eventually ended up — Los Angeles. He was one of the original high-flyers in the NBA, setting the standard for future legends such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Earvin “Magic” Johnson.
“Elgin was THE superstar of his era – his many accolades speak to that,” Lakers owner Jeanie Buss said in a statement. “But more importantly he was a man of great integrity, even serving his country as a U.S. Army reservist, often playing for the Lakers only during his weekend pass.”
He was also one of the first Black stars of the NBA. He was one of the first Black players to be drafted by any NBA team as a franchise headliner, and also one of the first to protest racial injustice. He refused to play a game in Charleston, West Virginia when he was not allowed to stay at the team hotel.
PHOTO GALLERY: Remembering Elgin Baylor
Baylor was born on Sept. 16, 1934 in Washington D.C. He played one season at the College of Idaho before transferring to Seattle University and led the team to their first NCAA championship game. He was drafted first overall by the Minneapolis Lakers in 1958, going on to average 24.9 points, 15 rebounds and 4.1 assists a game and becoming Rookie of the Year.
After playing 14 seasons with the Lakers, he retired from basketball in 1971 and went on to serve as coach for the New Orleans Jazz and vice president of basketball operations for the Los Angeles Clippers.
RIP to the NBA’s first high flyer, Lakers Legend, & Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor. Before there was Michael Jordan doing amazing things in the air, there was Elgin Baylor! A true class act and great man, I’ll always appreciate the advice he shared with me when I first came into the pic.twitter.com/khPRc73gqWREAD MORE: Graphic Antisemitic Graffiti Showing Up On Pathways From Will Rogers State Park All The Way Into Venice
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) March 22, 2021
Baylor was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1977. His No. 22 jersey was retired by the Lakers in 1983, and a bronze statue honoring Baylor in front of Staples Center was unveiled in 2018.
The team’s 2020-21 Lore Series City Edition Uniform was dedicated to Baylor, whom the team lauded as the first to play above the rim, a civil rights activist and the first player to “truly weaponize the jumpshot.”
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Dual by Nature
Introducing the 1960 Original & the 2020 Remix 🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/MWE9Qc1D6S
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 4, 2020
Baylor is survived by his wife, Elaine, his daughters Krystal and Alison, son Alan, and sister, Gladys Baylor Barrett.