Aaron Jamal Crawford was born March 20, 1980. He played his high school basketball for Rainier Beach High School, a basketball powerhouse in Seattle, before committing to play for the University of Michigan. Crawford was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers but was traded on draft day to the Chicago Bulls. In his career, he has also played for the New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors, Atlanta Hawks, Portland Trailblazers, Los Angeles Clippers, and Minnesota Timberwolves.
He won the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award in 2010, 2014, and 2016, becoming the first three-time winner of the award in NBA history. He currently holds the record for most career four-point plays made with 50, and 55 when including the playoffs (as of the end of the 2016-17 season).
Crawford attended Rainier Beach High School in Seattle, where his number (23) is retired. At Rainier Beach, Crawford was a standout player who led the Rainier Beach Vikings to victory in the 1998 WIAA State Championship. Rainier Beach High School is also where fellow NBA and NCAA basketball players Doug Christie, Nate Robinson, Terrence Williams, and C.J. Giles attended. After high school, Crawford attended the University of Michigan, where he was given a six-game suspension by the NCAA for violating rules on amateurism and extra benefits received by Seattle businessman Barry Henthorn. Crawford served his suspension and ended up averaging 16.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 1.1 steals as a starter for the Wolverines. He was then declared eligible for the 2000 NBA Draft.
Crawford was drafted by the Cavaliers but traded on draft day to the Chicago Bulls for their pick, Chris Mihm. In his rookie year Crawford started in 8 of the Bulls' 82 regular season games. In his rookie year Crawford struggled with his shot, shooting just 35.2% from the field. Despite his low shooting percentage, Crawford scored in double digits 10 times and ended the season averaging 4.6 points, 1.5 rebounds, and 2.3 assists. In his 2nd NBA season, Crawford played in only 23 games due to injury, starting in 8 of these games. Though limited by injury, in this season he improved in nearly every statistical category, averaging 9.3 points, 1.5 rebounds, and 2.4 assists. In his third year with the Bulls, Crawford played in 80 games, starting in 31. Crawford became a major component of Bill Cartwright's offense, and continued to improve statistically, averaging 10.7 points, 2.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1.0 steal per game. The Bulls missed the playoffs with a record of 30-52. Crawford's fourth year in Chicago was his last. In the season Crawford averaged 17.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 1.4 steals. During the season Crawford became the starting shooting guard for the Bulls, Crawford had his best game as a Bull, scoring 50 points and drilling 6-11 three-pointers, vs. the Toronto Raptors on April 11, 2004. The Bulls finished at 23-59 in what was Scottie Pippen's last year in the NBA. Prior to the 2004-05 season (after four seasons with Chicago), Crawford was traded, along with Jerome Williams, to the Knicks for Dikembe Mutombo, Othella Harrington, Frank Williams, and Cezary Trybanski.
Crawford joined another young rebuilding team in the Knicks. Crawford started in 67 games for the Knicks, averaging 17.7 points, 2.9 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1.4 steals. Crawford had many games in which he scored over 20 points, most noticeably a 41-point effort in which he made 17-25 shots against the Charlotte Bobcats on December 4, 2004. The Knicks failed to qualify for the playoffs. Crawford in his second season in New York City took a reduced sixth man role under head coach Larry Brown. In that role he averaged 14.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 3.8 assists. The Knicks failed to make the playoffs with a 23-59 record. For the 2006-07 season the Knicks went a new direction, hiring Isiah Thomas to be the new head coach. He became the fourth head coach for the Knicks in three years. Crawford only played 59 games due to injury but averaged 17.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 4.4 assists. In 2007-08 Crawford averaged 20.6 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 5.0 assists. Crawford provided one of the few bright spots for the 23-59 Knicks on January 26, 2007, when he scored a career-high 52 points, hitting 16 shots in a row at one point. He hit eight-straight three-pointers, one short of the team record set by Latrell Sprewell in 2002. In 2008-09 Crawford only played in 11 games for the Knicks before being traded to the Golden State Warriors for Al Harrington.
Crawford was a good fit in Don Nelson's run-and-gun offense because of his three-point shooting, ball handling, and quickness. Crawford played in 54 games for the Warriors, starting in all of them. He averaged nearly 20 points per game, with 4.4 assists, and 1.5 rebounds. On December 20, 2008, Crawford scored 50 points vs. the Charlotte Bobcats in a 110-103 victory for the Golden State Warriors. He became the fourth player in NBA history (after Wilt Chamberlain, Bernard King, and Moses Malone) to score 50 points or more with 3 different teams (doing so with the Bulls, Knicks, and the Warriors). The Warriors did not qualify for the playoffs. They traded Crawford to the Atlanta Hawks for guards Acie Law and Speedy Claxton.
When Crawford joined the Atlanta Hawks in 2009, the team had made the playoffs the last two seasons. On January 15, 2010 Crawford hit the game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer for the Hawks in a game against the Phoenix Suns; the Hawks won 102-101. On February 3, 2010, Crawford set an NBA record for most career four-point plays made in a win over the Los Angeles Clippers, passing Reggie Miller. Crawford averaged 18.0 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 2.0 assists off the bench, backing up All-Star guard Joe Johnson, and Mike Bibby. Crawford was a leading candidate for the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award and won it in 2010. The Hawks, led by Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Al Horford, Mike Bibby, and Crawford, qualified for the playoffs. The clinching turned out to be Crawford's first trip to the playoffs; Crawford had the record for longest tenured player without playing in a playoff game. Crawford and the Hawks advanced past the Milwaukee Bucks in seven games. Crawford led all scorers with 22 in the decisive game seven. The Hawks were eventually swept by the Orlando Magic. In his second season in Atlanta, the Hawks fired coach Mike Woodson and hired Larry Drew. Crawford regressed from his 2009-10 season but still had a solid season off the bench, averaging 14.2 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 3.2 assists. Crawford was considered for the Sixth Man of the Year Award but lost to Lamar Odom. The Hawks made it to the playoffs, this time as the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks defeated the Orlando Magic, in a series where Crawford made a game-clinching three-pointer with six seconds left in Game 3, but were defeated in six games by the Chicago Bulls in the conference semi-finals.
On December 15, 2011, Crawford signed with the Portland Trailblazers. He averaged nearly 14 points in 60 games, while having a career-high free throw percentage of 92.7 percent in the lockout-shortened season. The Trailblazers did not make the playoffs with a record of 28-38 (.424).
On July 11, 2012, Crawford signed with the Los Angeles Clippers. During the 2012-13 season, Crawford averaged 16.5 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in 29.3 minutes per game. He played 76 games that season. He also finished in 2nd place in voting for the 2013 NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award, edged out by J.R. Smith. In the opening round of the playoffs, the Clippers were defeated by the Memphis Grizzlies in six games. During the 2013 playoffs, Crawford averaged 10.8 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game. During the 2013-14 season, Crawford averaged 18.6 points, 3.2 assists, and 2.3 rebounds per game in 69 games played. His 18.6 points per game were the most ever for a bench player who had at least 1,000 points in a season.
On May 8, 2014, Crawford was named the 2014 NBA Sixth Man of the Year, winning the award for the second time in his career. He led all NBA reserves in scoring with 18.6 points per game, helping the Clippers finish with their best record in franchise history (57-25).
During the fourth quarter of a 121-120 overtime win over the Phoenix Suns on December 8, 2014, Crawford was called for a loose ball foul after getting tangled with Suns' guard Eric Bledsoe at midcourt. After saying something to referee Mark Lindsay, Crawford was hit with a technical and his first career ejection in his 976-game career.
On November 2, 2015, in a win over the Phoenix Suns, Crawford became the third shooting guard in NBA history to reach 16,000 points. On November 14, he scored a game-high 37 points in a 101-96 win over the Detroit Pistons. On January 10, 2016, he recorded his 46th four-point play of his career in a 114-111 overtime win over the New Orleans Pelicans. On April 8, 2016, he made a three-pointer with 0.2 seconds left and finished with 30 points in a Clippers' 102-99 overtime victory over the Utah Jazz. On April 19, he was named the NBA Sixth Man of the Year for the third time in his career. At 36 years old, he broke his own record, set in 2014, as the oldest winner of the award.
On July 8, 2016, Crawford re-signed with the Clippers. By making two of four three-pointers against the New Orleans Pelicans on December 2, 2016, Crawford (1,962) passed Vince Carter (1,961) for #6 on the NBA's all-time list for made three-pointers. With a three-pointer at the 2:06 mark of the second quarter in the Clippers' 118-119 loss to the Toronto Raptors on February 6, 2017, Crawford became the sixth NBA player to reach 2,000 made three-pointers. He joined Ray Allen, Reggie Miller, Jason Terry, Vince Carter, and Paul Pierce in the 2000 club. During the game, Crawford also passed Eddie Johnson for #2 in career NBA bench scoring. Crawford's 9,572 bench points trails only Dell Curry's 11,147. He also passed Magic Johnson for 74th in career points scored. On February 11 against Charlotte , Crawford scored 22 points while going 5-of-8 on three-pointers. Crawford (2,009) subsequently passed Vince Carter (2,006) for fifth-most three-pointers made in NBA history.
On July 6, 2017, Crawford was acquired by the Atlanta Hawks in a three-team trade involving the Clippers and the Denver Nuggets. The following day he was waived by the Hawks. On July 19, 2017, Crawford signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves.