Each day, the VA honors a special military veteran for their dedicated service on their blog, VAntage Point. Today’s veteran is Army Veteran Elgin Baylor, who served as a Reservist while also playing basketball for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Elgin Baylor grew up playing high school basketball in Washington D.C. and received a scholarship to play basketball and football at the College of Idaho. After just one season, basketball scholarships were cut, cutting Baylor’s college basketball career short.
Baylor then took a year off from college before attending Seattle University in Washington, where he 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 then drafted Baylor during his junior year of college. In 1959 he made the All-Star Team and was voted Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year during the 1958-59 season.
Baylor moved with the Lakers to Los Angeles in 1960 and continued playing even after joining the Army Reserve in 1961. He was called into active duty that year, serving at Fort Lewis, Washington but was still able to play 48 games during the 1962 season by flying to games on his weekend passes.
Knee issues forced Baylor to retire from the Lakers in 1972, but he went on to work as the head coach of the New Orleans Jazz basketball for a brief period. Baylor was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1977 and his jersey was retired 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.
Baylor became vice president of the Los Angeles Clippers in 1986 and held that job for 22 years. He won the National Basketball Association Executive of the Year in 2006.
Thank you for your service.