LOS ANGELES—The Los Angeles Lakers announced on Monday, March 22 that Elgin Baylor, former player of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Hall of Famer, passed away from natural causes in Los Angeles at the age of 86.

The Lakers said in a statement:

“Former Lakers player and Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor passed away peacefully of natural causes today in Los Angeles at the age of 86.  Baylor was surrounded by his wife, Elaine, and his daughter, Krystal.”

Baylor’s wife, Elaine, said in the statement that her husband was “the love of my life and my best friend” 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.”

Former NBA player Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Jr. tweeted on March 22:

“RIP to the NBA’s first high flyer, Lakers Legend, & Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor.  Before there was Michael Jordan doing amazing things in the air, there was Elgin Baylor!  A true class act and great man, I’ll always appreciate the advice he shared with me when I first came into the league.  Cookie and I are praying are praying for his wife Elaine, kids, and the entire Baylor family.”

Baylor played at College of Idaho in Caldwell, Idaho before transferring to Seattle University in Washington state, leading “the team to their first NCAA [National Collegiate Athletic Association] championship game before being drafted first overall by the Minneapolis Lakers in 1958,” according to the Los Angeles Lakers.

He continued to play with the Minneapolis Lakers when the team (now called the Los Angeles Lakers) moved to Los Angeles in 1960.  Baylor played for 14 seasons, from 1958 until his retirement in 1971.

In 1959, Baylor was Rookie of the Year and in 1977, six years after he retired. He would have turned 87 in September. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.  His no. 22 jersey was retired by the Lakers in November 1983.

Jeanie Buss, Governor of the LA Lakers, called Baylor “THE superstar of his era” and “a man of integrity, even serving his country as a U.S. Army reservist, often playing for the Lakers only during his weekend pass,” in a statement.  Baylor “will always be part of the Lakers legacy.”

Baylor leaves behind his wife, his sister, Gladys Baylor Barrett, and his three children, Krystal, Alison, and Alan.

Written By Sejja Khaled