This article's content is marked as Mature

The page Motaw contains mature content that may include coarse language, sexual references, and/or graphic violent images which may be disturbing to some. Mature pages are recommended for those who are 18 years of age and older.
If you are 18 years or older or are comfortable with graphic material, you are free to view this page. Otherwise, you should close this page and view another page.

Motaw is the secondary antagonist of the 1994 Basketball drama film Above the Rim. He is a homicidal gang member, who is also a talented basketball player, who plays for Birdie's, the local neighborhood drug kingpin, basketball team, the Birdmen. Motaw also serves as one of Birdie's lieutenants in his criminal empire, collecting money from people for him.

He was portrayed by Wood Harris, who also played Avon Barksdale in The Wire.


One night, Motaw with Birdie attended a basketball game at Monarch High School, to watch the school's team, The Panthers, play against their rivals, the Tigers. They met with a low-level gang member named Bugaloo, who wanted show them how well his best friend, the Panthers star player Kyle Lee Watson, plays basketball. After the Panthers lose the game, due to Kyle's ball hogging, Motaw berates Bugaloo for wasting their time, then Motaw wants to leave and tries to convince Birdie to not let Kyle play for the Birdmen for the Shoot-Out, the local neighborhood basketball competition, but Birdie was nethertheless impressed by Kyle's basketball skills and tells Bugaloo to bring Kyle to his nightclub, much to Motaw's dismay.

Later that night Bugaloo brought Kyle to Birdie's night club like was to told to do, Motaw and Birdie were introduced to Kyle, while Birdie welcomed Kyle, Motaw expressed his resentment and jealously towards Kyle. One night Motaw was driving around the neighborhood, with Kyle and Bugaloo, where they watched Birdie's older brother Thomas "Shep" Sheppard, a former basketball star who now works at Monarch High as security guard, pretending to play basketball. While Kyle and Bugaloo were goofing around, Motaw berated them telling them now they are working for Birdie they have to act like soldiers. Then Motaw spotted two men who owed money to Birdie, he had Bugaloo stop the car so he could collect the money for Birdie, but they didn't give Motaw all the money, the latter brutally beat them and told them not hoard money again. Motaw then gets back in the car and tells Kyle and Bugaloo how he acts like a soldier.

Motaw is next seen when Kyle picks a fight with a homeless crack addict, Flip Johnson, who used to play with Shep in high school. Motaw pulls Kyle off Flip, but when Flip disrespects Birdie Motaw pulls out a gun and threatens him but Kyle stops him. After Flip reveals to Kyle that Shep is Birdie's brother, Motaw and Birdie walk away but Kyle asks about Shep being his brother. After Birdie says he doesn't care about his brother to Kyle, who then leaves, Birdie decides to have Flip killed, much to Motaw's delight. At night during one Kyle's basketball games, Motaw and Birdie find Flip and murder him. Later on at Birdie's nightclub, Motaw is seen laughing when reveals to Bugaloo that he is not playing for the Birdmen in the Shoot-Out and humiliates him for believing that he will college basketball with Kyle. At Shoot-Out the next day, Kyle arrives late and quits the Birdmen, having learned what Motaw and Birdie did to Flip and disgusted for mistreating Bugaloo, who is then kicked out of Birdie's gang.

Birdie then Motaw in Kyle's place, and the Birdmen make to the finals thanks to their underhanded and thuggish play, along with Kyle's team the Bombers, who he switched before the Shoot-Out started. However, due Birdie threatening Kyle's chance of playing for the Georgetown Hoyas, after he was recently recruited by them, by blackmailing him by saying he will reveal the brides Kyle accepted, Kyle does not play to his full extend, while Motaw gloats to Kyle and abuses him on the court, until Kyle gets hurt. However, Kyle then rebels against Birdie when Motaw injures his friend Bobby. But Motaw injures another one of the Bombers, leaving them one team member short, until Shep comes to play for them. Although Motaw abuses Shep on the court, he proves to be big help for the Bombers, allowing Kyle to make the game winning basket. Birdie then hands Motaw a bag with gun in it and orders Motaw to kill Kyle.

Just as Motaw was about to shoot Kyle, Shep, who witnesses this, steps in and gets shot instead. Then the police officers who were attending, Motaw shoot twice, killing him, and Shep survives, despite being wounded.