Hooked: The Legend

Hooked: The Legend


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



A native of West Oakland, CA, Demetrius “Hook” Mitchell is said to be one of  the greatest

basketball players never to make it to the NBA.  At just 5″9′, he built his legendary street status

by slam dunking over any obstacle he could conquer



Hooked: The Legend

 of Demetrius ‘Hook’  Mitchell

A Documentary by

Michael Skolnik and William O’Neill

Screening, Sunday, June 15, 2003, 5:30 p.m.

San Francisco Black Film Festival


Gary Payton is one of the top point guards in the NBA and arguably one of the best of all time. He grew up with Demetrius “Hook” Mitchell and says Hook is better than he is.  Jason Kidd and Brian Shaw agree. Yet, most of the free world hasn’t heard of this mythic figure who only stands five feet nine inches because as legendary as he was on the court, problems off the court derailed his trip to immortality and landed him behind bars. This is his story.

Hook’s compelling story is told through the lens of filmmakers Michael Skolnik and William O’Neill. Their film made its world premiere at The 2003 Tribeca  Film Festival.

The San Francisco Black Film Festival presents the West Coast Premiere Hooked: The Legend of Demetrius ‘Hook’  Mitchell.

A native of West Oakland, CA, Demetrius “Hook” Mitchell is said to be one of  the greatest basketball players never to make it to the NBA.  At just 5″9′, he built his legendary street status by slam dunking over any obstacle he could conquer, most notably over the top of a Volkswagen.  But, it seems, the one obstacle Hook could never overcome was the street itself.  His dream was to play basketball in the NBA, but since 1999, Hook’s been playing in prison.

Born on September 11, 1968, Hook’s parents, both drug addicts, abandoned him soon after his birth.  While his grandmother did her best to raise him, she couldn’t stop the ever-present pull of drugs and crime that permeated the streets of West Oakland.  By age 10, Hook was smoking marijuana, at 12 he was snorting powder cocaine and by 17 he was snorting heroin.  Neighborhood drug dealers took notice, taking care of  Hook’s addiction in exchange for entertaining them with his spectacular dunks.

Oakland is the birthplace to more NBA basketball stars than any other city in the country.  Hook attended McClymonds High School with Antonio Davis where, together, they ruled the home court.  Across town at the rival Skyline High, Gary Payton was a favorite.  Davis, Payton and other Oakland natives such as Jason Kidd, Brian Shaw, J.R. Rider and Greg Foster all ascended to illustrious NBA careers; Hook sank deeper into his addiction.  He never graduated high school but, astonishingly, Hook ended up as the star player for two different Junior College teams.  The schools forged Hook’s high school transcripts (he never  even enrolled in junior college classes) and, as always, Hook got special treatment as a result of his unparalleled athletic talent.  Hook, his abilities and his habits were exploited over and over by schools and drug dealers alike.

On December 27, 1999  Hook was arrested for armed robbery.  He agreed to a plea bargain, forgoing trial, and was sentenced to a reduced term of five years with no less than 85% time served.  Hook is now clean and sober.  He’s been transferred to Konocti Correctional Facility, a low-level institution without walls in Lower Lake, CA, and will be released in 2004. 

His ability on the court made him a basketball star, even where his choices made him just another number, another would-be gone wrong.  His childhood friends, many heroes themselves now, still talk about him-his renowned slam-dunks, his undeniable prowess and his raw, uninhibited talent-proving that even today, Hook Mitchell is still a  playground legend.

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Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label ‘trafficked’ does not accurately describe migrants’ lives and that the ‘rescue industry’ serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. “Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality.”—Lisa Adkins, University of London

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Debt: The First 5,000 Years

By David Graeber

Before there was money, there was debt. Every economics textbook says the same thing: Money was invented to replace onerous and complicated barter systems—to relieve ancient people from having to haul their goods to market. The problem with this version of history? There’s not a shred of evidence to support it. Here anthropologist David Graeber presents a stunning reversal of conventional wisdom. He shows that for more than 5,000 years, since the beginnings of the first agrarian empires, humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goods—that is, long before the invention of coins or cash. It is in this era, Graeber argues, that we also first encounter a society divided into debtors and creditors.  Graeber shows that arguments about debt and debt forgiveness have been at the center of political debates from Italy to China, as well as sparking innumerable insurrections. He also brilliantly demonstrates that the language of the ancient works of law and religion (words like “guilt,” “sin,” and “redemption”) derive in large part from ancient debates about debt, and shape even our most basic ideas of right and wrong. We are still fighting these battles today without knowing it. Debt: The First 5,000 Years is a fascinating chronicle of this little known history—as well as how it has defined human history, and what it means for the credit crisis of the present day and the future of our economy.  

Economist Glenn Loury  /Criminalizing a Race

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The White Masters of the World

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W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

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update 6 August 2008





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