Growing up in Washington, D.C., Elgin Baylor’s family couldn’t afford a basketball. The first time he played hoops was with a tennis ball.
Who would have thought that he would go to become one of the greatest players in the history of the sport.
That young man went on have a place in the Hall of Fame, his jersey retired by the Lakers and, on Friday, a statue of his likeness unveiled outside of STAPLES Center.
“I can remember that tennis ball in my hand,” Baylor said. “Jump shot, it went through the hoop. It was the beginning of love and appreciation for the game that’s still with me today.”
The 16-foot-9, 1,500-pound statue depicts Baylor mid-drive during his 14 years with the Lakers.
He is the 10th person to be awarded a STAPLES Center sculpture, joining Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Chick Hearn, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, Wayne Gretzky, Luc Robitaille, Bob Miller and Oscar De La Hoya.
In his NBA career from 1958-72, Baylor was named to 11 All-Star teams, played in eight NBA Finals and grabbed more rebounds than any player in franchise history.
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