Elgin Baylor, one of the greatest players in Los Angeles Lakers history, passed away peacefully from natural causes on Monday at the age of 86.
The Hall of Fame small forward died in L.A. this morning surrounded by his wife, Elaine, and his daughter, Krystal. The Lakers announced the sad news on their official Twitter account, sharing “Elgin Baylor: Forever part of our Lakers Family.” In addition, the Lakers organization shared a lengthy statement on Baylor’s legacy, which included some touching words from his wife.
“Elgin was the love of my life and my best friend,” said Elaine. “And like everyone else, I was in awe of his immense courage, dignity and the time he gave to all fans. At this time we ask that our family be allowed to mourn his passing in privacy.”
Lakers Governor Jeanie Buss spoke about the NBA superstar‘s incredible talent while also sending her condolences to the Baylor family.
“Elgin was THE superstar of his era – his many accolades speak to that,” Buss said in her statement. “He was one of the few Lakers players whose career spanned from Minneapolis to Los Angeles. 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 is one of the all-time Lakers greats with his No. 22 jersey retired in the rafters and his statue standing guard in front of Staples Center. He will always be part of the Lakers legacy. On behalf of the entire Lakers family, I’d like to send my thoughts, prayers and condolences to Elaine and the Baylor family.”
Elgin Baylor’s Incredible NBA Career and Legacy
Starting in the late 1950s, Elgin Baylor quickly became an early pioneer of the NBA. His combination of size, speed, and athleticism, along with his gift of shooting helped make him one of the league’s all-time greatest players. His signature hanging jump shot, along with other acrobatic moves on the court, made him a fan favorite of the Lakers’ faithful.
Baylor is one of only a few players to play for both the Minneapolis Lakers and the Los Angeles Lakers. He played for the franchise for two seasons in Minnesota before the team moved to California. He spent an extra 12 seasons with the organization, leading them to eight NBA Finals in his 14 total seasons.
In 1958, Minneapolis drafted Elgin Baylor with the No. 1 overall pick. The forward helped turn around a 19-53 team from the season before. The Lakers were in last place, however, during his rookie season, Baylor led the team to the Finals in just his first year.
He went on to earn the NBA Rookie of the Year in 1959. Additionally, he became an 11-time NBA All-Star and a 10-time member of the All-NBA first team. In 1977, Elgin Baylor was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Baylor’s basketball legacy has been cemented for decades and will live on for eternity.