Rasual Butler and Leah LaBelle attend the 2017 NBA Awards at Basketball City – Pier 36 – South Street in New York City last June
Former NBA journeyman forward Rasual Butler and his American Idol wife were killed when their speeding Range Rover flipped over and crashed in California on Wednesday.
Butler, 38, who played 13 seasons in the NBA from 2002 to 2016, crashed his Range Rover near Studio City in Los Angeles around 2am local time, according to TMZ. The vehicle reportedly hit a parking meter before slamming into a wall and flipping over.
Police believe he was speeding at least twice the 35mph speed limit.
Butler’s wife Leah LaBelle, 31, was a contestant during the 2004 season of ‘American Idol.’ LaBelle was a Canadian-born American R&B singer.
She signed a production deal in 2011 with LA Reid, Jermaine Dupri and Pharrell Williams and released a five-song sampler.
Rasual is survived by his daughter Raven from a previous relationship.
A Philadelphia native, Butler attended La Salle University before being drafted in the second round of the 2002 NBA Draft. He averaged 7.5 points and 2.4 rebounds over 809 games between the 2002-03 season and 2015-16.
Known as a three-point threat, Butler retired with a solid 36.2 percent mark from behind the arc.
Both Rasual Butler and wife Leah LaBelle were the only reported casualties in the crash
Butler’s Range Rover reportedly flipped over after it struck a parking meter in Los Angeles
The collision reportedly occurred in L.A.’s Studio City around 2am on Wednesday morning
The vehicle reportedly hit a parking meter before slamming into a wall and flipping over
Debris from Rasual Butler’s Range Rover at the scene of the accident in Studio City
Butler was not expected to have a lengthy NBA career when he was taken by the Miami Heat near the end of the 2002 draft but went on to play for eight other teams.
But given his ability to play both small forward and shooting guard, coupled with his natural shooting ability, Butler carved out a role with several franchises, including the Heat, New Orleans Hornets, Chicago Bulls, Toronto Raptors, Indiana Pacers, Washington Wizards and San Antonio Spurs.
He was named the NBA D-League’s ‘Impact Player of the Year’ in 2013.
Police believe Rasual Butler was speeding at the time of the accident
Rasual Butler and his wife sit in the audience BET’s ‘Players’ Awards’ in 2015
(Left) LaBelle on the red carpet as one of the 12 finalists for the third season of American Idol. (Right) Labelle at Le Jardin on September 21, 2017 in Hollywood, California
Butler was also included in the largest trade in NBA history when he was sent to the New Orleans Hornets (who have since moved to Charlotte).
The four-team deal involving the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, Utah Jazz, and Memphis Grizzlies involved 13 players, including former All-Stars Eddie Jones, Antoine Walker, and Jason Williams as well as veteran forward James Posey.
Butler had his best seasons in 2008-09, when he averaged 11.2 points a game for the Hornets, and 2009-10, when he averaged a career-best 11.9 points and 33 minutes a game for the Clippers.
Butler’s last tweet was posted just hours before he died. He wrote: ‘we are here to be Ourselves and No one else!’
Butler shared this final photo to Instagram just hours before he died saying ‘Here to create’
In a now poignant last tweet late on Tuesday just hours before he died, Butler wrote: ‘We are here to be Ourselves and No one else!’ He then shared a link to an Instagram photo which said ‘here to create’.
And in a sweet Instagram post just three days before his death he praised his daughter Raven.
‘My daughter is so (water wave emoji) yyyy! Her Aura, spirit, style, creativity, intellect, passion and understanding for her age is a beautiful thing to watch as very proud father! She understands things about being solid many adults struggle with!
‘I Love you with every single element of human anatomy that allows me to be here in the physical as your father, friend, partner and inspiration for everything driving me to be the ultimate best version of me.’
Butler shared this sweet Instagram post just three days before his death where he praised his daughter Raven
Butler was well-known friends with former NBA Sixth Man of the Year Lamar Odom, and even appeared in episodes of his television show, ‘Khloé & Lamar,’ which focused on the brief marriage of the former All-Star and Khloé Kardashian.
LA Lakers’ Chris Martin Palmer tweeted: ‘Just talked to Lamar Odom who considered Rasual Butler his best NBA friend. ‘He was my brother.’
In an earlier tweet he wrote: ‘My heart is crushed upon hearing about the death of Rasual Butler. Had many great conversations with him. He died on a freeway two miles from my house at 2:30 AM while I was on Twitter talking about nothing.’
LA Lakers’ Chris Martin Palmer shared these tweets above. In one he said: ‘Just talked to Lamar Odom who considered Rasual Butler his best NBA friend. ‘He was my brother’
Rasual Butler, in his final NBA season with the San Antonio Spurs, defends Atlanta’s Mike Scott
Miami Heat owner Micky Arison responded to the news on Twitter, writing ‘Sad sad news R.I.P. Rasual.’
Former Miami Heat teammate Dwyane Wade expressed his grief over Butler’s passing through Twitter, saying: ‘Come on man. Damn. The world just lost a great dude.’
The LA Clippers tweeted: ‘The L.A. Clippers are deeply saddened by the loss of Rasual Butler and his wife, Leah LaBelle. Rasual will long be remembered not only for his accomplishments on the court, but for his vibrant personality, positive outlook and the compassion he had for everyone around him.’
The Washington Wizards called him ‘a great teammate, a positive member of the community and a consummate professional’ who will be ‘missed throughout the entire NBA family’.
Chicago Bulls tweeted: ‘We are deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Rasual Butler and his wife, Leah LaBelle. Our sincere thoughts and condolences go out to their friends and family.’
NBA legend Kobe Bryant tweeted: ‘Rest In Peace my brother #RasualButler’.
Sadness: Tributes flooded in for Butler from teams and players across the NBA, as seen above
Butler and LaBelle pictured on Instagram. LaBelle was a Canadian-born American R&B singer