Earl Lloyd was born on April 13, 1928 in Alexandria, Virginia. He attended Parker-Gray High School in Alexandria where he was All-State in basketball. After graduation he attended West Virginia State College where he also starred in basketball and was voted to the All-Tournament team and the All-Conference team for three years. Lloyd tried out with the Old Brooklyn Dodgers as a pitcher and was offered a contract, which he refused in order to attend West Virginia State College and played a forward on the 1948 CIAA undefeated championship team. Upon his graduation from West Virginia State in 1950, he played one season for the Washington Capitols in Washington, D.C. Lloyd was noted as the first black to play in a NBA game. After seven games with the Washington Capitols, he was drafted into the United States Army. Throughout his military career he was a sergeant and was selected to the All-Army basketball team. After his military career he was drafted by the NBA Syracuse Nationals where he played from 1952 to 1958. The Nationals were World Champions from 1954 to 1955. Lloyd went on to play for the Detroit Pistons from 1958 to 1960 before becoming assistant coach, scouting director and head coach for the Pistons from 1961 to 1972.
In his NBA career with the Washington Capitols (1950–1951), Syracuse Nationals (1952–1958) and Detroit Pistons (1958–1960), Lloyd averaged 8.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 560 games over nine seasons. The basketball court at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria was named in Lloyd’s honor in 2007.