5 Things You Need To Know About Oakland Street Basketball Legend Demetrius ‘Hook’ Mitchell

Isheka N. Harrison
Written by Isheka N. Harrison
A concept showing a regular basketball hoop dramatically spotlit from above on an isolated dark background – 3D render

Unless you grew up in the Bay area in in 1980s and 1990s, Demetrius ‘Hook’ Mitchell is basketball legend you may have never heard of. But your favorite NBA players have. Mitchell, who has been described as one of the best to play the game, never made it to the NBA despite his immense talent. And it had nothing to do with how he performed on the court, rather the issues he dealt with off of it. Here are 5 things to know about Oakland street basketball legend Demetrius ‘Hook’ Mitchell.

1. Hailed as the greatest basketball player Oakland produced

Born and raised in Oakland, California in 1968, Demetrius ‘Hook’ Mitchell was one of the most talented basketball players in high school, local college and streetball tournaments. At 5-foot-11, Hook was a guard who could float over cars, bikes and even people to make multiple dunks in a game.

He attended McClymonds High and played in the Oakland Athletic League with and against several NBA legends who attested to his phenomenal talent.

”Hook was the greatest playground player ever from Oakland. He could jump over cars and dunk. He was better than all of us. He could have been one of the best players in the N.B.A. It was just one of them things. He took one route and we took another route,” former NBA all-star Gary Payton once said.

”He jumped over me once, and that was my last time volunteering,” Jason Kidd told the New York Times in 2000. ”You actually could see the bottom of his sneakers. … ‘This guy, Demetrius, was so talented. He was physically built like a tank. He could play the game. In my era, yes, he was the best. You could ask around the town, and if there was a dunk contest and you heard the likes of Demetrius Hook Mitchell, he would draw a crowd. He was a magnet.’

2. Path to NBA career derailed by drug addiction and street life

Abandoned by his parents and raised by his grandmother on the West Oakland Housing project, Hook struggled with drug and alcohol addiction. He also fell victim to the street life, which ultimately cost him his chance at NBA greatness.

He admitted it pushed some of those who loved him most (including fellow ballplayers who tried to help him) away.

“My drug addiction as well as my street mentality may have pushed them away from me in … the true sense of it because of the true fact that I was very hazardous to them, you know. They knew if they would’ve gave me some money what I was gonna do with it,” Hook said in a clip of the documentary, “Hooked” The Legend of Demetrius ‘Hook’ Mitchell.”

3. Arrested for robbery and served over 5 years in prison

Reasons for Hook’s arrests include: police finding marijuana in a car he and his friends were in after they had an accident in which one of his friends was killed; robbery, illegal possession of a firearm and murder (this charge was dismissed after witness credibility was questioned).

He also ran with the “wrong people” according to his surrogate grandmother Shirley Jones.

”Everybody was running with Hook,” Jones told the Times. ”He couldn’t do wrong. They kind of spoiled him and never let him grow up. That’s what happens to a lot of these kids. Such a waste. Hook was so damn good. Jason and Gary don’t got nothing on him.”

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4. Scored 45 points in a junior college game in tribute to a close friend who was murdered

Hook playing for Contra Costa College when his close friend Larry Parker was shot and killed in 1986. He dropped 45 points at his next game in Larry’s honor. He also noted that he was devastated by Parker’s death and it contributed to his downward spiral.

“When he passed away it was like I forgot how to walk forward … it was like I was crawling again,” Hook said. His ex-girlfriend Kayatta Patton confirmed how much Larry meant to Hook.

“I know this is somebody who sheltered Hook, who took care of him, but as far as he told me that was somebody he admired. … He took me to Larry Parker’s grave one day and he told me a story about how Larry took care of him,” Patton said.

5. Converted to Islam in prison

During a five-year sentence for robbing a Blockbuster video store in 1999, Hook converted to Islam in prison. He changed his name to Waliyy Abdur-Rahim and asked that it be used when addressing him.

There were recent reports that Hook had died, however, they were revealed to be rumors by people close to him. At his last public remarks some years back, Hook said he was a mentor to youth who founded and coached the Oakland Mountain Dew Xtreme youth basketball team.