“He was obviously a great basketball player,” said Graham, a former Terrapins teammate. “I think we had too many great basketball players.”
Several players transferred and, after two seasons, Hunter did the same. “I didn’t think I would ever sit on the bench,” Hunter told The Washington Post in August 1978.
He continued his career at Colorado, where he was a two-time all-Big Eight player, and in 1981 the Milwaukee Bucks drafted him in the sixth round. After the Bucks cut him before the season, Hunter signed deals to play internationally, in the Philippines, Europe and South America. He reunited with Graham, who also played overseas, and resumed a friendship that began in College Park. The money was good, and life was, too.
After their careers ended, Hunter and Graham returned to Washington. Hunter worked as a personal trainer and played in local leagues, but the life he had known was gone. Hunter said he doesn’t like to discuss this part of his life; Graham said they began using drugs. It was the only way to experience a high like basketball had once provided.
“He and I had the same pain,” Graham said.
Hunter put it simply: “Some of us can’t let go.” He was arrested four times in the mid-’90s; in each case the charges were dismissed.
Desperate, Hunter said, for the big money and lavish lifestyle he had once known, he and an ex-girlfriend entered a jewelry store in December 1995. They left with $300,000 in stolen gems.
“A move to try to sustain my lifestyle,” Hunter said, emphasizing that he was not on drugs at the time.
Five months later, they tried another store. This time, the clerk tried to wrestle away Hunter’s gun; during the scuffle, the clerk was shot in the wrist. The clerk identified Hunter, who had worn no mask, from a police photograph. He was arrested and charged with 11 felony counts. The ex-girlfriend later testified against him.
Word of Hunter’s crimes made its way to the old neighborhoods, where friends and former teammates wondered how such a fate could have befallen him. Hunter said recently that, like the old days, he didn’t consider failure. He never thought he’d get caught.
“Going to prison,” he said, “it takes away everything.”
‘Monumental show of support’
Three years ago, a group of about 10 men met in the dining room at R.N. Horton’s Funeral Home in Northwest. Their basketball careers were long behind them — but that didn’t mean they were finished playing.
Some had played on teams in the suburbs, but they wanted to play in Washington, as they once had — with its own league, tournaments and champions.
So they crafted a plan. Simeon Williams, who worked with the city’s recreation department, was their man on the inside. Randolph Horton, who owned the funeral home, would be the league’s financier. Attracting players would be the easy part.