Former NBA player Rasual Butler and a passenger in his SUV were killed in a single-vehicle accident in Southern California early Wednesday morning, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County coroner’s department confirmed to USA TODAY Sports.
Butler was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash in Studio City that occurred around 2:30 a.m., according to Los Angeles County Coroner Assistant Chief Ed Winter. Butler lost control of his Range Rover, which proceeded to hit parking meters and then a wall before it rolled over and came to rest in a store parking lot.
The female occupant was not immediately identified by either the coroner’s office or Los Angeles police pending the notification of the next of kin.
According to statements from two of Butler’s former teams, the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat, the passenger was his wife, Leah LaBelle.
TMZ was the first outlet to report the fatal accident.
Looking back: How Rasual Butler made a name for himself in the NBA
Drafted in 2002 by the Heat, Butler was a journeyman who played for eight teams in 13 seasons across his career. He was out of the league in the 2012-13 season before playing for the Pacers in 2013-14 and Washington Wizards in 2014-15. He stuck with the team as a key reserve, averaging 7.7 points and 2.6 rebounds in 20 minutes per game.
A quintessential pro, Butler never would have lasted so long without the right attitude and work ethic. He finished his career with the San Antonio Spurs during the 2015-16 season.
Asked by USA TODAY Sports in 2014 why he persisted so long chasing his NBA dream, he said, “Because I wanted to play basketball. It’s very easy. It’s a simple answer. If you’re serious about doing what you love to do, then you’re going to do whatever it takes for you to continue to do what you love to do.”
Tributes from those in the NBA family began pouring in on Wednesday.