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Joe Hammond "The Destroyer" Fights for His Right of Publicity

By Minara El-Rahman on January 21, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Joe Hammond, the infamous street basketball player known as "The Destroyer" is suing Footlocker and Nike. The Harlem streetballer who rocked the blacktop back in the 1970s claims that the sneaker company's t-shirt sold at Footlocker outlets violates his right of publicity.

According to the NY Post, the t-shirt in question has the tagline "Joe The Destroyer Hammon" (sic) with the picture of a broken down basketball hoop. As if using the poor man's  name wasn't enough, Nike even misspelled it. Mr. Hammond was not amused by the shirt and is suing both companies for $5 million dollars in Manhattan federal court.

Right of publicity is the right of an individual to use their name or likeness for commercial purposes. If a person's image, name, or likeness is used for commercial purposes like selling or endorsing a product without his/her permission, then that would violate a person's right of publicity. Even though Mr. Hammond's name is spelled incorrectly, the fact that he was known as "The Destroyer" and was notorious as a basketball player of the streets may make his case compelling.   

Mr. Hammond commented outside his Harlem home about the lawsuit. He told the NY Post: "They put a shirt of mine in Foot Locker with no contract." No stranger to contracts gone bad, it is reported that he was offered a contract to play professional basketball with the Los Angeles Lakers back in the 1970s. He is said to have turned down the contract offer because he was making more money dealing drugs on the streets.

For more information on the right of publicity, please visit our Related Resources links.

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