Miami Heat

Former Miami Heat player and wife die in single-car crash in California

Former Miami Heat player Rasual Butler and his wife were killed in a single-car crash in California on Wednesday.
Former Miami Heat player Rasual Butler and his wife were killed in a single-car crash in California on Wednesday.

Former NBA player Rasual Butler — who played for the Miami Heat from 2002-2005 — and his wife died in a single-car crash in California on Wednesday. Butler was 38. His wife, Leah LaBelle, was 31.

According to TMZ, which first reported the news, Butler lost control of his Range Rover around 2 a.m. in Studio City, California. The car struck a parking meter and slammed into a wall before flipping over, according to the report.

The Miami Heat drafted Butler with the 53rd overall pick of the 2002 NBA Draft and he stayed in Miami for three seasons before continuing his journeyman NBA career with the Hornets (2005-2009), the Bulls (2011), the Raptors (2011-2012), the Pacers (2013-2014), the Wizards (2014-2015) and the Spurs (2015-2016).

Overall, Butler played 14 seasons in the league and averaged 7.5 points and 2.4 rebounds per game.

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Rasual Butler and his wife, Leah LaBelle,” the Heat wrote on its official Twitter account accompanied by a picture of Butler and Heat president Pat Riley. “Our sincere condolences, thoughts and prayers go out to the family and many friends of Rasual and Leah. They will be missed.

Shortly after the news came out, people close to him took to social media to send condolences.

“Come on man. Damn. The world just lost a great dude,” wrote Dwyane Wade, who played with Butler in Miami from 2003-2005. “RIP Rasual “Bop” Butler!”

About an hour later, Wade posted a photo of him and Butler on Instagram from Wade’s first public appearance after being drafted by the Heat.

“I was nervous to go along—So Sual joined to make it easier on me,” Wade wrote. “That’s who he was—A great individual that was always there for people when they needed him. Today is a sad day.”

“Sad sad news R.I.P. Rasual,” wrote Miami Heat owner Micky Arison.

“Devastated to hear the news about the passing of my former teammate, Rasual, & his wife. My thoughts and prayers go out to their families during this difficult time. Rasual was an amazing teammate and an even better person. He will truly be missed!” wrote Lamarcus Aldridge, who played with Butler from 2015-2016 with the San Antonio Spurs.

“Heat Nation heart broken to learn of the tragic death of Rasual Butler and his wife in a single car accident last night in California. He was a great guy who began his 13 yr NBA career as a Heat draft pick. He and Caron came to us in the 2002 draft. RIP Rasual. Gone to soon,” Heat television play-by-play broadcaster Eric Reid wrote.

Related stories from Miami Herald