Former NBA star and Wife killed in auto crash
Feb 01, 2018 Sports 5786 By Collins Kelechi
Former NBA star Rasual Butler and his wife, R&B singer, Leah LaBelle Vladowsk were killed in an auto crash crash in Los Angeles early Wednesday. The Range Rover crashed at around 2.30am (10.30am GMT) in the Studio City area and left a
swath of damage along a major thoroughfare. Los Angeles police released statement saying Butler was speeding before his vehicle jumped a curb, hit three parking meters and a concrete wall and then flipped over twice. The vehicle came to rest inside a shopping mall parking lot. Ed Winter, assistant chief investigator, with the Los Angeles County coroner’s office said Butler, 38, and Leah LaBelle Vladowski, 31, were pronounced dead at the scene.
Butler was drafted in 2002 by the Miami Heat out of LaSalle University in his hometown of Philadelphia. He played for eight NBA teams during his 13-year career, including the Los Angeles Clippers, Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs. He had career averages of 7.5 points and 2.4 rebounds. Butler’s death shocked the NBA community with some Team Presidents reacting to the news. ‘This is beyond a sad day for the Miami Heat Family. Rasual was one of the greatest people we have ever had play for us; a great player, teammate and better person,’ team President Pat Riley said in a statement. Indiana Pacers President Kevin Pritchard expressed a similar emotion in his statement saying, ‘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 Clippers said Butler ‘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.’ He had two stints with the Clippers, in 2009-10 and 2010-11. Minnesota guard and former Clipper Jamal Crawford tweeted, ‘Damn this one hurts! RIP Rasual Butler & his wife Leah. Sounds so cliche, but Rasual was really one of the good ones!!’ Butler last signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves in late 2016 and was waived that October.
Butler’s wife earned a measure of celebrity as an R&B singer. She placed 12th in the third Season of ‘American Idol’ in 2004.
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. ‘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.’ Heat President Pat Piley raved about Butler and his wife Wednesday, and many in the organization still spoke very highly of Butler – even though he last wore a Miami uniform more than a decade ago. ‘Rasual was one of the greatest people we have ever had play for us; a great player, teammate and better person,’ Riley said. ‘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.’
Butler played for eight NBA clubs – Miami, New Orleans, the Los Angeles Clippers, Washington, Indiana, San Antonio, Toronto and Chicago. He was also under contract with Minnesota in 2016, but was waived before the start of the regular season. He averaged 7.5 points, with a career-high of 33 points on two occasions. Butler was from Philadelphia and played four years of college basketball at La Salle. There were no shortage of kids from Philadelphia who tried to emulate his game – one of them being Toronto guard Kyle Lowry, who tried to show off for some friends at a basketball camp they were attending on the night Butler got drafted. Lowry, then 16, boasted that he knew Butler and gave him a call – hoping the new pro would answer. Butler took the call, and Lowry never forgot that gesture. ‘This is truly a sad day for me,’ Lowry said.