Baker played for Old Saybrook High School in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. Baker was passed over by the bigger Division I schools and signed a scholarship offer from the Hartford Hawks.
During Baker's inaugural season in 1989, he averaged on 4.7 points and 2.9 rebounds per game, which earned him a place on the North Atlantic Conference All-Rookie Team. Named a starter for his sophomore season, Baker averaged 19.7ppg and 10.4rpg and a first team All-NAC spot. As a junior, Baker averaged 27.6 ppg (2nd in the country), 9.9 rpg, and 3.7 blocks per game (5th in the country), though the team finished with an abysmal 6-21 record. Entering his final season, Baker was called "America's Best-Kept Secret" by Sports Illustrated and the conference's most dominant player since Reggie Lewis by Street & Smith's College/Prep Basketball Preview in 1992. Baker averaged 28.3ppg (4th in the country) and finished with 792 points in only 28 games, a conference record that still remains in the NAC (now America East Conference). He finished with 2,238 points, a school record that still stands. However, Baker was not able to translate his immense scoring abilities into team success, as none of his teams ever made the NCAA tournament, and the best his Hartford teams ever finished in a season was .500 (14-14).
Baker's jersey (#42) hangs on the east wall of Chase Arena in the Reich Family Pavilion.
After a college career at the University of Hartford, not far from where he grew up in Old Saybrook, Baker was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks with the 8th pick of the 1993 NBA draft. He played four seasons in Milwaukee.
After four seasons with the Bucks, he was traded to the Seattle SuperSonics following the 1996–97 NBA season in a three-team deal that sent Tyrone Hill and Terrell Brandon to the Bucks, and Shawn Kemp and Sherman Douglas to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
After four years in Seattle, Baker was traded to the Boston Celtics with Shammond Williams for Kenny Anderson, Vitaly Potapenko and Joseph Forte. While his career averages include 15.1 points per game, his numbers had dropped considerably in the twenty-first century. After the 1998–99 NBA lockout season, Baker's weight ballooned to near 300 pounds and his game suffered tremendously. While Baker was able to get his weight down to around 250, Baker revealed that he was a recovering alcoholic who used to binge in hotel rooms and at home after playing poorly. In an interview in the Boston Globe, Baker said Celtics coach Jim O'Brien smelled alcohol on him in practice and confronted him about it. The team suspended him and he was eventually released.
Baker would sign with the New York Knicks. The team reached the playoffs in the 2003–04 NBA season.
Baker was traded to the Rockets with Moochie Norris for Maurice Taylor on February 24, 2005.
The Rockets would ultimately release Baker on October 7, 2005. He would spend the 2005–06 NBA season in a reserve role with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Baker signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves on October 1, 2006, reuniting him with head coach Dwane Casey, who served as an assistant coach when Baker was in Seattle. His tenure in Minnesota would be short-lived, though. Baker was released from the Timberwolves on November 13, 2006. He never played in a regular season game after being on the inactive list for the first six games.
Vin Baker has a non-profit foundation called the Stand Tall Foundation. The Stand Tall Foundation is an organization that helps give kids a better future by financially assisting with different charitable and volunteer organizations. The goal of the Stand Tall Foundation is to help young people with their education, personal development and general well-being.
On June 3, 2011, he was hired as an assistant high school boys basketball coach at St. Bernard School in Uncasville, Connecticut.
In 2014, Baker was named to a team assembled by Dennis Rodman as part of his "basketball diplomacy" effort in North Korea with the job of playing an exhibition match against the North Korean Senior National Team to celebrate the birthday of Kim Jong-un.
In 2017, Baker became the head of the basketball department at Camp Greylock.
Baker's mother is Jean Baker. His father, Rev. James Baker, is an auto mechanic and Baptist minister. Baker has a wife and four children.
On June 19, 2007, Baker was arrested in Norwich, Connecticut for drunk driving after leaving Foxwoods Resort Casino.
On June 21, 2008 ml-implode.com reported Baker's 10,000 sq ft (930 m2) Durham, Connecticut home was foreclosed and put up for sale for $2.3 million. The house was purchased by U.S. Bank for $2.5 million at an auction on June 28, 2008.
He reportedly lost over $100 million due to financial troubles.
As of December 2015, Baker was managing a Starbucks location in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.
Anchor on Fox Sports for basketball as of 2017.