Ex-NBA player Rasual Butler, 38, dies in crash
The Associated Press contributed to this report.Former NBA player Rasual Butler was killed in a single-vehicle crash in the Studio City neighborhood of Los Angeles, early Wednesday morning, the L.A. County coroner’s office confirmed to ESPN. He was 38.
Butler’s 31-year-old wife, Leah LaBelle Vladowski, also died in the crash, the coroner confirmed. The R&B singer was a finalist in Season 3 of “American Idol” in 2004. The couple was pronounced dead at the scene at 2:35 a.m. after his Range Rover struck parking meters and a wall and rolled into a parking lot, the coroner’s office said.
An autopsy report is pending.
Butler, a forward who averaged 7.5 points and 2.4 rebounds per game, played 13 seasons in the NBA for eight teams. He last played during the 2015-16 season with the San Antonio Spurs.
So sad this morning to here about my friend and teammate 😢 RIP Rasual Butler appreciate the people around u because u never kno 😔😔😔
— Paul Pierce (@paulpierce34) January 31, 2018
Rest In Peace my brother 🙏🏾#RasualButler
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) January 31, 2018
The NBA released a statement saying it was “devastated” by Butler’s death. “A pro’s pro, Rasual enjoyed a long, successful career and was widely respected by his peers and coaches,” the NBA said.
Butler was selected by the Miami Heat in the second round of the 2002 draft out of La Salle. After three seasons with Miami, Butler also played for New Orleans, the LA Clippers, Chicago, Toronto, Indiana and Washington.
In a statement, Heat president Pat Riley called Butler “one of the greatest people we have ever had play for us; a great player, teammate and better person.”
“It’s always hard to cope with losing those you shared your life with, but we feel blessed to have had such a bright light shine in all of our lives,” Riley said. “Our compassion, empathy and hearts go out to their family and loved ones.”
“I know I speak for everybody at the Heat,” said an emotional Miami coach Erik Spoelstra, an assistant when Butler was with the club. “He was one of our favorite guys.”
Added Pacers president Kevin Pritchard: “In his one season with us, Rasual was the consummate team player and a great role model for our younger players on how a professional should prepare and act, while being a positive influence on everyone who associated with him.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.