Everything About Elvin Hayes: NBA, Wife & Net Worth

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Elvin Ernest Hayes, aka “The Big E,” is a retired American basketball player who is often regarded as one of the best power forwards in NBA history. 

The utmost player stood out in the 70s and was at one of the finest academic and professional levels when he played 16 seasons in the NBA.

Moreover, Elvin is an associate of the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team and an inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Currently, he is a radio analyst for his alma mater, Houston Cougars.

Elvin Hayes Smiling
Elvin Hayes Smiling (Source: Sports Illustrated)

Well, most people might be familiar with Elvin only by name but not thoroughly. So, today, let’s dive into the life of Elvin Ernest Hayes and discuss all the information, like his early career, family, education, net worth, and so much more.

We will also dig into his social life and issues if he has any. But for now, let us check his quick facts. 

Quick facts:

Full Name Elvin Ernest Hayes
Date  November 17, 1945
Place Of Birth Rayville, Louisiana, USA
Nick Name The Big E
Religion Catholicism
Nationality American
Ethnic Belonging African-American
Father’s Name Christopher Hayes
Mother’s Name Savannah Hayes
Number Of Siblings 5
  • Eula D. Britton
  • University of Houston
Zodiac Sign Scorpio
Age 78 Years Old
Height 6 ft 9 in/2.06 m/206 cm
Weight 235 lb/107 kg
Eye Color Dark Brown
Hair Color Black
Shoe Size Unavailable
Figure Athletic
Marital Status Married 
Wife Erna Livingston 
Children 4 (Erica Hayes, Erna Elisse Hayes, Elvin Hayes Jr., One Unknown)
Occupation Retired Basketball Player
Net worth $6 Million
Wingspan ‎7’2″
Active Since 1968-1984
Current Work  Radio Analyst
Merch Signed Ball, Signed Card 
Social Handle Instagram
Last Update May 2024

Early Life, Family, And Education

Elvin was the youngest of six kids born to proud father Christopher Hayes and supporting mother Savannah Hayes.

They were cotton mill laborers in the minor, impoverished settlement of Rayville, Louisiana. Since his early days, Hayes had seen the darkest point of his life.

He didn’t even own a shoe to wear and had to ask his cousin every time he wanted to go anywhere.

As African-American people were mistreated, Elvin’s escape from the partiality and ferocity counter to his race was baseball, his preferred game.

The start of his profession in basketball was totally accidental. Even though he was an upright pupil throughout high school, the teachers often suspended Hayes due to his class pranks.

Further, to navigate Elvin away from the unsafe turn of his life, the respected coach John Calvin decided to place him on the basketball squad.

He was a teacher and trainer at Eula D. Britton High School, who said that Hayes was very awkward at first, but he practiced hard.

Later during his junior year, Hayes achieved his signature move, the turnaround jumper.

Also, Elvin understood his outside shooting was insufficient, so he advanced the turnaround jumper to counteract taller rivals.

As a result, Hayes led his squad to fifty-four straight victories and a state tournament while averaging thirty-five points for each game.

He was named to All-Conference, All-State, and All-America teams due to his excellent gameplay. 

Moreover, he was also voted the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 1964, during his last year in high school.


“When I was in elementary school, I went out for Little League, but I didn’t own any shoes. In fact, I didn’t own shoes from fifth to ninth grade and had to go barefoot. When I first started playing basketball, I wore two-left footed tennis shoes I pulled out of the trash and taped to my feet.”
-Elvin Hayes

Age, Height, And Body Measurements

The former stellar player, Elvin Hayes, was born on November 17, 1945, which makes him 78 years old. 

He stands at the astounding height of ‎6 feet 9 inches (206 cm) and weighs about ‎235 lb (107 kg)

Elvin In The Court
Elvin In The Court (Source: Twitter)

Further, Hayes has dark brown eyes and black curly hair, which suits his facial structures perfectly.

Back in his days, he had a robust build and a highly maintained body, which was due to exercise and a strict diet.

According to his birth date, his zodiac sign is Scorpio, and they are speculated to be a career-oriented and hard-working individual. And in his case, this is 100% true.

College Career

More than 100 colleges and universities wanted to recruit Elvin Hayes. But he chose the University of Houston, where he and Don Chaney were the foremost African-American athlete involved in basketball.

Hayes led the Cougars into the Western Regional semi-finals of the 1966 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament but lost to the Pac-8 winner, Oregon State Beavers.

After that, Elvin took the Cougars to the Final Four of the 1967 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament.

Similarly, he scored 31 field goals, 25 points, and 24 rebounds in a 73-58 semi-final loss to the ultimate winner UCLA Bruins, including Lew Alcindor (today identified as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar).

Hayes’s rebounding total is next to Bill Russell‘s Final Four record of 27.

Elvin Hayes with Kareem Abdul Jabar
Elvin Hayes with Kareem Abdul Jabar (Source: Pinterest)

On January 20, 1968, Houston Cougars and UCLA Bruins again clashed in the first-ever nationally-televised regular-season college basketball game.

In front of the 52,693 admirers at the Houston Astrodome, Elvin recorded 39 points and had 15 rebounds while restraining Kareem to as little as 15 points.

Finally, Houston beat UCLA 71–69 and ruined the Bruins’ 47-game winning streak in what has been titled the “Game of the Century.”

That game aided Hayes in earning The Sporting News College Basketball Player of the Year award. 

Hayes credited his coach Guy Lewis for his success and also said that he and his assistant “were like fathers to us, showing us respect and treating every one of us the same—black or white.”

After the Re-Match

At the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, Elvin again confronted Kareem and UCLA in the 1968 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament. It was the rematch of the “Game of the Century.”

UCLA trainer John Wooden made the Bruins play a ‘triangle and two” zone defense. It was arranged in such a way that Kareem Jabar played behind Hayes, and Lynn Shackleford faced him.

He only scored 10 points, and the match was lost 101-69 in the semi-final game.

Likewise, Elvin led Houston in scoring after securing 27.2 points, 28.4, and 36.8 per game for three consecutive years (1966, 1967, and 1968). 

For his university career, Hayes accumulated 31.0 points each game and 17.2 rebounds. He has the most rebound in NCAA tournament history at a whopping 222.

While a scholar at Houston, Hayes was initiated into the Alpha Nu Omega Chapter of the Iota Phi Theta fraternity together with future Hall of Famer Calvin Murphy.

Elvin was nominated as the first overall selection in both the 1968 NBA draft and 1968 ABA draft after his college.

Likewise, the professional team San Diego Rockets and the Houston Mavericks took him in. 

NBA Career

San Diego/Houston Rockets

Hayes joined the NBA with the San Diego Rockets in 1968. He made an outstanding score of 28.4 points each game and averaged about 17.1 rebounds per game.

Elvin was named to the All-Rookie Team; his scoring average was the fifth-best all-time for a recruit, and he remains the last rookie to lead the NBA in scoring average.

On November 11, 1968, he accumulated a career-high of 54 points against the Detroit Pistons.

Elvin for Rockets
Elvin For Rockets (Source: Twitter)

The next season, Elvin ruled the NBA in rebounding, which made him the only player other than Bill Russell or Wilt Chamberlain to lead the category since 1957 (Chamberlain was hurt throughout the season).

In Hayes’ third season, he hit a career-best of 28.7 points each game. Moreover, in 1971, the Rockets moved to Houston, allowing Elvin to perform in the city of his college victories.

Baltimore/Capital/Washington Bullets

Elvin was with the Bullets in 1975 as Baltimore Bullets picked him up in exchange for Jack Marin.

Hence, he led the Washington Bullets to three NBA Finals (1975, 1978, and 1979) and an NBA championship in 1978.

Throughout the Bullets’ championship season, he accumulated 21.8 points and 12.1 rebounds per game in 21 playoff games.

Hayes also recorded an NBA finals record for most offensive rebounds in a game on May 27, 1979. The Chicago Bulls Dennis Rodman tied this record two times.

Return to Rockets

Elvin was sent back to the Rockets for second-round draft choices in 1981. Not to mention, the reason was that Hayes desired to finish his playing career in Texas and preferably Houston.

“I never wanted to work in sports. However, basketball gave me freedom, which is something I never dreamt I would have.”
-Elvin Hayes

Career Stats

Career 1303 21.0 12.5 1.8 .452 .147 .670 .452

After Basketball

After Elvin’s basketball career came to an end, he returned to his university to finish the last credit hours to get the undergrad degree.

He joined the University of Houston in 1986 and graduated with a B.A. in recreation and speech.

He also pondered numerous business ventures, raised cattle on his ranch near Texas, and opened a car dealership in Houston.

During one of the interviews, Elvin mentioned that studying was more difficult than playing 16 years of professional basketball. 

“I played 16 years of pro basketball, but this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

In 2007, Hayes became a City of Liberty Police Reserve Officer, fulfilling his childhood dream. 

After completing his duty, he became a radio analyst for the Houston Cougars to broadcast games on Houston’s KBME. Judging from all of this, it is clear that Elvin had an exciting career.

Highlights, Accolades, And Honors

Hayes was already a strong player before he began his professional career. When Hayes retired in 1984, he was among the highest in many NBA statistical categories. 

It included being 11th in scoring (27,313 points), fourth in rebounds (16,279), and seventh in minutes played (nearly 50,000).

Elvin In Action
Elvin In Action (Source: NBA)

Surprisingly, he only missed nine games in 16 seasons and played 1,303 games. 

On November 18, 2022, Hayes had his number 44 jersey retired by the Houston Rockets.

Career highlights And Awards

  • 1967-1968: Consensus first-team All-American, UPI Player of the Year, Associated Press Player of the Year, Consensus first-team All-American, Sporting News Player of the Year 
  • 1969-1970: NBA scoring champion, NBA All-Rookie First Team, 12× NBA All-Star (1969-1980), NBA rebounding leader 
  • 1973-1979: 3x All-NBA Second Team, NBA All-Defensive Second Team, 2× NBA All-Defensive Second Team, All-NBA First Team, NBA champion (1978)
  • NBA 50th Anniversary Team
  • NBA 75th Anniversary Team
  • No. 11 retired by Washington Wizards
  • No. 44 retired by Houston Cougars

Personal Life 

Elvin Hayes is happily married to his long-time girlfriend, Erna Livingston. The couple has four children; Erica, Erna Elisse, Elvin Hayes Jr., and one unknown. 

Hayes’s autobiography, They Call Me the “Big E,” was published in 1978 and was co-written with Bill Gilbert. It gives many insights into his personality but covers little specific personal information. 

Instead, Scott Crawford’s “Elvin Hayes,” in African American Sports Greats (1999), corrected by David Porter, is a decent source of biographical material.

Likewise, H. Burchard’s “Sports Star Elvin Hayes” (1980) is a worthy juvenile book on Hayes.

Furthermore, David Llores’s “No Back Seat for Elvin,” Ebony (March 1968), gives some household info that is not obtainable elsewhere.

Social Media Presence

Elvin Hayes is not active on social media. He leads a very private life with little to no social media presence, but he has a private Instagram account under the username “@elvin.hayes.”

Instagram: 749 Followers 

Popularity Graph 

The former NBA legend is a famous sports personality who is adored by millions of fans.

Elvin Hayes Search Graph 2023
Elvin Hayes Search Graph 2023 (Source: Google Trend)

The graph shows his search trend in the last 12 months. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the jersey number of Elvin Hayes?

Elvin Hayes played in jersey number #44 for the Houston Rockets and jersey number #11 for the Washington Wizards.

How much is Elvin Hayes Topps's rookie card worth?

Elvin Hayes Topps's rookie card price ranges from $21.26-$283.99.

Did Elvin Hayes and Michael Jordan play against each other?

No, the two did not get a chance to face each other on the NBA court. Hayes retired the year Jordan was drafted into the NBA. 

Does Elvin Hayes own G.M. Autoworld?

Yes, Elvin Hayes currently owns Liberty-Dayton G.M. Autoworld outside Houston.

Is Elvin Hayes Breitbard Hall of Famer?

Yes, Elvin Hayes was inducted into the Breitbard Hall of Fame in 2003.

Sanjib Sah
Sanjib Sah
Sanjib Sah is an engineer and content writer passionate about sports and athletics. With a background in engineering and a love for all things active, Sanjib brings a unique perspective to the world of sports writing. Whether he is covering the latest trends in sports technology or sharing tips on improving your game, Sanjib's words are always rooted in a deep appreciation for players' hard work and dedication everywhere. In his free time, you can find him hitting the courts or hitting the trails, always looking for new ways to challenge himself and improve his skills.

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