Former Pacer Rasual Butler, wife killed in single-car crash

Former Pacers forward Rasual Butler and his wife, Leah LaBelle, passed away in a one-car accident early Wednesday morning in Los Angeles, according to TMZ.

They were pronounced dead at the scene, FOX LA reported. “The vehicle crashed into several fixed objects. … Video from the scene showed the vehicle had crashed into and damaged a Marshalls store. Police said the vehicle was a new Range Rover that had to be speeding, judging by the debris.”

Butler, 38, was drafted by the Miami Heat 53rd overall in 2002 draft — and his final season in the league was with the San Antonio Spurs for the 2015-16 season.

He enjoyed the game, but loved the process.

Rasual Butler (right) giving back during Christmas with George Hill (left).

Butler spent time with nine teams, not including a stint in the Development League. Eager to return to the league in 2013, he accepted a spot on the Pacers’ Summer League team as a 34-year-old. It paid off, as he was rewarded with a roster spot.

Butler was with the Pacers for just one year, appearing in 50 games during the 2013-14 season, but he made a significant positive impact on the culture.

And while, yes, he was a basketball player … he was much more than that. He was a leader of men. He was full of thought, full of life. He wanted nothing more than to be the best version of himself each day and to be kind to anyone he met. He was appreciative and he was sincere.

And he loved his daughter.

The Pacers issued the following statement from Kevin Pritchard, President of Basketball Operations:

“Our entire organization is deeply saddened after learning of the death of Rasual Butler and his wife, Leah LaBelle. 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. We offer our sincerest condolences to he and his wife’s family.”

Here was Butler’s final post, shared on Instagram hours before the crash:

View this post on Instagram

We are here to be Ourselves and No one else!

A post shared by Rasual Butler (@rasualbutler8) on

Reaction from across the league:

View this post on Instagram

Good or bad days Rasual always came in and worked. He not only made it to the the NBA once, which I can’t explain how hard it is people just don’t get it. Then came into a training camp and made a roster off being out of the league for a little while. We got into an argument one time and if you know me I’m as competitive and as hard headed as it comes, but that night he called me to apologize that was the type of person he was. He was a true professional and gave me an opportunity to work with outside of practice. He never stoped working on his game and him self just trying to become better overall. His basketball career was amazing but how he did it and the way he did it as a person is even more amazing. Life is so precious and you never take the time to reflect or think about the good till after the fact. We wait till it’s too late whether their a big or small part of your life. If I didn’t ever say it before thank you for everything you taught me and letting me be a small part of your unbelievable story and journey. It’s a sad day and my thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. 🙏R.I.P.

A post shared by Coach Mike (@m.paul6) on

Worth rereading this post of Sual’s from Oct. 2017:

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