Former NBA player Rasual Butler has died in a single-car crash in Los Angeles. Butler was 38.
According to TMZ Sports, who first reported the news, Butler was driving in the Studio City section of L.A. when he “lost control of his Range Rover around 2 a.m., struck a parking meter and slammed into a wall.”
The vehicle was “traveling at speeds two to three times higher than the limit,” L.A. police told NBC Los Angeles.
Police officials are still investigating the cause of the crash.
NBC reported that there was a woman with Butler at the time of the crash who also died. TMZ reported that it was his wife, former “American Idol” contestant and R&B singer Leah LaBelle.
After twice earning First-Team All-Atlantic 10 conference honors during his four years at LaSalle University, the Philadelphia native and local prep/playground legend entered the NBA in 2002, drafted by the Miami Heat with the 24th pick in the second round, 53rd overall.
The 6-foot-7 swingman faced an uphill battle for minutes on a Heat squad featuring Caron Butler and Eddie Jones on the wing, but he impressed Pat Riley and company with his work ethic, earning a spot in the rotation and making 72 appearances, including 28 starts, as a rookie.
That sort of story would play out again and again over the course of the next decade. Butler’s numbers would never leap off the page, and his individual offensive exploits rarely wowed you, but he just kept finding his role and filling it expertly.
He played defense, he spaced the floor, he knocked down open shots, and he made sure that the ever-grinding lifers who sit at the head of NBA benches kept feeling compelled to call his number.
A consummate professional always ready to contribute, Butler carved out a niche that allowed him to spend 13 seasons in the NBA, averaging 7.5 points and 2.4 rebounds in 21.3 minutes per game for his career.
Butler suited up for eight different franchises, beginning his career with the Heat before being traded to the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets and Los Angeles Clippers, and later signing with the Chicago Bulls, Toronto Raptors, Indiana Pacers, Washington Wizards and San Antonio Spurs.