Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Elgin Baylor, who served as a Reservist while also playing basketball for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Elgin Baylor grew up in Washington, D.C., playing high school basketball on and off due to poor grades. He received a scholarship to play basketball and football at the College of Idaho. After one season, the college fired the head basketball coach and cut scholarships.
Baylor took a year off from school to increase his NCAA eligibility before attending Seattle University in Washington. While at Seattle University, Baylor led the Seattle Chieftains basketball team to the NCAA title game in 1958 and received the Final Four Most Outstanding Player award.
The Minneapolis Lakers drafted him during his junior year of college. Baylor made the 1959 All-Star Team, was Most Valuable Player during the 1958-59 season and voted Rookie of the Year.
After the Lakers’ move to Los Angeles in 1960, Baylor’s NBA career continued to improve. Baylor also continued to play for the Lakers after joining the Army Reserve in 1961. He was called into active duty that year, serving at Fort Lewis, Washington. Despite being an Army Reservist, Baylor played 48 games for the Lakers during the 1962 season and would fly to games on his weekend passes.
Despite knee issues, Baylor continued to play for the Lakers until early in the 1972 season. Due to continued knee issues, Baylor retired from the Lakers in 1972.
After retiring, he served as head coach of the New Orleans Jazz basketball team for a brief time in the 1970s. Baylor was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1977. The Lakers retired his jersey in 1983. Baylor was a member of the NBA’s 35th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1980 and the NBA 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1996.
He also became vice president of the Los Angeles Clippers in 1986, a job he held for 22 years. Baylor won the National Basketball Association Executive of the Year in 2006.
Thank you for your service!
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Writer: Sarah Concepcion