Butler spent 14 years in the NBA and played for a handful of teams. He was well-respected across the league. In 2018, he was involved in a bad car accident that killed him and his girlfriend.
Going from the second round to the NBA
Butler was a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and enjoyed a successful college career at La Salle. During his time at La Salle, he became the sixth player to score over 2,000 points, and he was inducted into the La Salle Hall of Athletes in 2008. After his career at La Salle, Butler entered the 2002 NBA draft and was drafted by the Miami Heat with the 53rd pick.
In his first season with the Heat, he played in 72 games averaging 7.5 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.3 assists. Butler spent three seasons in Miami, primarily coming off the bench. After playing with the Heat, he traded to the New Orleans Hornets and was a part of the largest trade in NBA history. The trade involved four teams and featured 13 players that were all sent to different teams.
Throughout his career, Butler was known for his outside shooting. One of his best seasons came during the 2009-10 season when he was playing for the Los Angeles Clippers. That season he finished with a career-high in points averaging 11.9 points per game. He only averaged double-digits in scoring three times in his career, and that was the last time he did it. He wasn’t known for his scoring abilities, but he knew and understood the role he had on the teams he played for.
The end of Rasual Butler’s NBA career
Butler had a brief stint in the NBA Development League in 2013. He joined the Tulsa 66ers and was named the 2013 Impact Player of the Year. The award is given to a player who joined an NBA D-League team halfway through the season and made the most significant contribution upon joining the team.
After spending the rest of the season in the D-League, Butler signed with the Indiana Pacers for the 2013-14 season. He would go on to finish his NBA career playing for the Washington Wizards and the San Antonio Spurs. Butler finished his NBA career averaging 7.5 points and 2.4 rebounds. In 2017 he was signed by the Ball Hogs to play in the BIG3 league and also played for Power.
Rasual Butler’s tragic car crash shocked the NBA world
In 2018, Butler was driving with his girlfriend Leah LaBelle when he lost control of his car and crashed into a strip mall parking lot. The accident was so severe that Butler and his girlfriend died instantly. Butler was 38-years-old. An autopsy report on Butler found methamphetamine, oxycodone, and marijuana in his body and a blood alcohol content of 0.118.
When the NBA community found out that Butler passed, it came as a surprise to many of his former teammates. In an article from Bleacher Report, Butler’s former teammate Patty Mills talked about their time playing together in San Antonio. “For him to be able to have such a big impact in such a short time, being in San Antonio, it’s unusual,” Mills says. “It takes a long time on NBA teams to earn trust when people are hopping all over the place.” Even though Butler wasn’t a star player, he made an impact throughout the league.