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Lakers announce Elgin Baylor has passed at the age of 86

Elgin Baylor died of natural causes, according to a statement released by the Lakers.

Elgin Baylor Statue Unveiling Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Eleven-time All-Star, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer and Lakers legend Elgin has passed away due to natural causes, the team announced in a statement on Monday afternoon. Baylor, who was 86 years old at the time of his passing, and was surrounded by his wife and “everlasting love” Elaine, and his daughter Krystal.

“Elgin was the love of my life and my best friend,” Elaine said in the statement. “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 I and our family be allowed to mourn his passing in privacy.”

Baylor, who the Minneapolis Lakers drafted with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1958 NBA Draft, spent the entirety of his career with the Lakers and was a part of the first-ever Los Angeles Lakers team.

During his career, Baylor averaged 27.4 points, 13.4 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. Baylor retired nine games into the 1971-72 season because he didn’t think he was good enough anymore, as explained by Benjamin Hoffman of the New York Times.

Baylor was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1977 and his No. 22 jersey hangs in the rafters at Staples Center. Baylor is also one of six Lakers with a statue outside of Staples Center.

This season, the Lakers honored Baylor with jerseys inspired by his first few years with the team. Their throwback jerseys are also from the era that he played in.

Lakers governor Jeanie Buss released a statement on Baylor’s passing on Monday.

“Elgin was THE superstar of his era - his many accolades speak to that,” Buss said. “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.”

Baylor never won a championship with the Lakers, but his sheer star power played an instrumental role in the team’s early financial success under extraordinary circumstances in Los Angeles and helped them grow into the global brand they are today.

His style of play is also reflected among today’s wings despite the fact that he was only 6’5.

Off the floor, Baylor was an activist for racial equality, even during his playing days, under far more adverse circumstances.

After he retired, Baylor remained a supporter of athletes who used their platforms to speak out against injustice.

Funeral arrangements are pending, per the team. This story will be updated.

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