January 31, 2018

Former La Salle star Rasual Butler dead at 38 following car crash

LaSalle University NCAA Basketball
013118-RasualButler-USAToday Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today

Ghost Ballers point guard Mike Bibby moves the ball ahead of Power forward Rasual Butler at MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Former La Salle University basketball star Rasual Butler has been pronounced dead following a car crash, according to media reports on Wednesday afternoon.

First reported by TMZ, Butler and his wife, singer Leah Labelle, were both killed in a single-car crash in Studio City, California in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Butler lost control of his Range Rover sometime around 2 AM, before hitting a parking meter and slamming the vehicle into a wall.

Butler was just 38 years old.

While most know him as a 13-year NBA veteran who plied his trade for eight different NBA teams, Butler was a prolific member of the Philadelphia basketball scene. Born and raised in South Philadelphia, Butler cut his teeth in the Sonny Hill League and at Roman Catholic High School — where he was a third-team Parade All-American as a senior — before accepting an offer to play for La Salle University.

During a four-year stint with the Explorers from 1998-2002, Butler became just the sixth player in school history to score at least 2,000 points for the university, joining Lionel Simmons, Michael Brooks, Tom Gola, Donnie Carr, and Steve Black in the elite club. Named First Team All-Atlantic 10 in both of his final two seasons at La Salle, Butler was enshrined in the La Salle University Hall of Athletes in 2008.

La Salle's athletic department released a statement on Butler's death Wednesday afternoon, reflecting on the loss of one of their best and brightest.

"This is a real tragedy to the La Salle community and to all who knew Rasual," Director of Athletics Bill Bradshaw said. "He was a terrific basketball player, a great teammate and a wonderful person. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the friends and families of Rasual and his wife, Leah."

True to his tough Philly roots, Butler carved out a long NBA career despite having to constantly fight for his spot. Drafted in the second round by the Miami Heat 2002, he would eventually be part of the New Orleans / Oklahoma City Hornets team displaced by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Butler found success late in his career as a three-and-D player for a variety of teams, most notably the Pacers and Wizards. He most recently played for the Power of Ice Cube's Big 3 Basketball League.

Labelle, 31, was a former contestant on American Idol who was signed to Epic Records as an R&B singer. 


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