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Ronald Hall Jr., 18 -- Shot

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OAKLAND — A few years ago, Ronald Hall Jr. was living in a run-down East Oakland apartment without lights or power, and without money or hope for the future.

His mother was on the streets — again — living on heroin and welfare checks. She would return home from time to time to pull the state checks from the mailbox, but she was strung out and unable to care for her teenage son, a star basketball player, say those who knew him.

Still, he stayed with her, fearful that she would be injured or killed — by her own hand or by angry drug dealers. He stayed away from drugs himself. And he tried to avoid violence.

But it found him early Monday, when he was shot dead around the corner from a Jack London Square nightclub.

His death — the 42nd homicide in Oakland this year — is somewhat puzzling. By all accounts so far, it appears Hall, an 18-year-old senior at St. Elizabeth High School, was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"He was a good kid. He had a tough break and a hard life, but he was a fighter. He was going to go to college. He wanted to play basketball and then come back to Oakland and be a firefighter. It's very tragic," said his 50-year-old guardian, who declined to give her name for fear of retaliation from his killer, who is still at large.

Hall's mother has been a heroin addict for a decade, and the teen had attended three high schools in Oakland and Richmond, struggling to keep his grades up, said his father, Ronald Hall Sr.

The father lives in American Canyon near Vallejo, but the boy insisted on staying with his mother even when she was missing and high on drugs, a family friend said.

Little was constant in the boy's life, except basketball.

He was twice named by Nike as one of the top 100 basketball players in Northern California, said those who knew him. He wanted to play pro ball. He wanted to get an education.

Hall Jr. died at 4:37 a.m. Monday. He was shot in the head, likely a victim of errant gunfire after a brawl outside Mingles Nightclub, police said.



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