Scan any list of up and coming NBA players and at the top, or near it, will be Phoenix Sun’s shooting guard Devin Booker.
Though Booker has had an up and down Sophomore year, he accomplished something recently that further raised his profile. Booker became one of six players to ever score 70 or more points in a game.
The former Kentucky guard is quickly become a household name for fans of the Suns and the NBA. After playing one magical season for Coach Calipari at the University of Kentucky, Booker played well enough (off the bench, mind you) for that 38-1 team, that he quickly declared for the 2015 NBA draft.
(Six of his teammates also declared after that season: Karl-Anthony Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, Dakari Johnson, Trey Lyles, and Aaron Harrison and Andrew Harrison)
Booker wound up being selected with the 13th overall pick by Phoenix in the 2015 NBA Draft. He would go on to be the first player since the “One and Done” rule (which required players to be at least 19 or complete one year of college basketball before declaring for the NBA Draft) to see his professional debut at the age of 18 for the Suns.
As his rookie season progressed, he would slowly see more and more significant minutes during the Suns regular season especially after the team saw major injuries to their star guards, Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight. Booker saw action in 76 of the 82 games and cemented himself as the future of the team.
As with any increased attention being paid to any player’s on-court attributes, it comes with increased scrutiny of the player’s off-court life. Similar to discussions and questions that have arisen regarding Golden State’s Splash Brothers, fans are extremely curious as to every little detail about Devin Booker — is he married? How old is Devin Booker? What his birthday? and of course, the subject of this article: What is Devin Booker’s race and ethnicity— is Devin Booker Black, White, Latino or Filipino?
Is it OK to be Curious about a Player’s Ethnic Background?
In today’s racially and politically charged environment, being curious and discussing race is not necessarily a bad thing. Despite the big steps that the country has taken regarding race over the past several decades, many people still find themselves living in racially segregated cities or suburbs, and simply lack the cultural understanding that is more common in other locations in the world.
Devin Booker is simply another emerging NBA star that comes from a diverse, multicultural background who can help us continue the dialogue started with the discussions similar to those that have gone on regarding Klay Thompson and Steph Curry. Similar to when we have looked at other stars regarding their race and ethnicity, we will take a look at both Booker’s dad’s and mother’s background.
Who is Devin Booker’s Father?
Booker’s father is Melvin Booker who played college basketball at the University of Missouri, and would go on to play professional basketball in both the NBA and abroad. His dad met his Mom, Veronica Gutiérrez, while he was playing for the CBA’s Grand Rapid Hoops team in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The elder Booker’s ethnic background is African American. The family would make the decision for Melvin to pursue an international basketball career abroad while Devin remained in Michigan with his Mom and family. Devin would visit his father in the summers when possible, and would learn the importance of not just working on his athleticism, but his overall basketball IQ.
In college, his father was named the 1994 Big Eight Player of the year while playing as the Tiger’s point guard. Booker also had a short NBA career playing 32 total games for the Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets, and Golden State warriors across the 1995-1996 and 1997-1998 seasons. Despite only being 6’1” tall, his son, Devin, stands 6’6” tall making him the perfect height for a NBA guard. The last International team that he played for was, Armani Jeans Milano, before returning to Moss Point, Mississippi to help coach his son during the final years of his High School basketball career.
What about Devin Booker’s Mom?
Devin Booker’s mother is Veronica Gutiérrez. Ms. Gutiérrez is of Puerto Rican descent, and the ties are strong enough that there has been significant chatter regarding Devin Booker possibly playing for the Puerto Rican National Team as an alternative to Team USA.
People from Puerto Rico find their ethnic origins from a wide array of national origins and ethnic backgrounds. Most prefer to be identified as being from Puerto Rico vice being Hispanic. When you add in the fact that past studies have shown that the ancestry of most Puerto Ricans is approximately 64% Eurasian, a little over 20% North and West African, and 15% 15% Taino/Amerindian, and you can see that Booker is even more unique when it comes to exploring what his actual race and ethnicity are.
So What is Devin Booker’s Race?
With his father being African-American, and his mother being Latina, Devin Booker is of mixed-race. When you look at his Puerto Rican heritage and background from his mother’s side, Booker’s racial identity is one of the most diverse in the NBA and is definitely more complex than being part black and white.
If we try to make an attempt to bin Booker into any one ethnic category, then we simply are not looking at the question appropriately when it comes to identifying with the multicultural norm that is becoming more prevalent across the United States and the World writ large. Similar to our past posts on Interbasket when it comes to discussing race, our intent is not make a big issue regarding race, but to simply compile facts and further the discussion regarding questions that basketball fans have regarding their favorite current and emerging NBA stars.
This isn’t new. We’ve discussed the race of Stephen Curry, Blake Griffin, Ben Simmons, Austin Rivers and Klay Thompson and those pieces always seem to be popular. If you have any thoughts or comments on the subject feel free to share via the comments section or our forum.