Caron Butler only played one season with Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. But unlike other players who have represented the storied franchise, a one-season stretch was enough for Butler to form a profound and lasting friendship with the late NBA legend.
Brothers beyond basketball
During his lone spell with the “Purple and Gold,” Butler was still in his formative years in the league. As a 24-year-old, “Tuff Juice” absorbed everything he could possibly learn from Bryant. In the process, Butler became one of the only “four” teammates Kobe considered his true friends.
Like Bryant, Butler was also passionate about writing. So when he was working on his first book, “Tuff Juice: My Journey from the Streets to the NBA,” the two-time NBA All-Star figured he’d ask Kobe to participate.
Butler said he was thinking of having Bryant do the book’s foreword, and he wanted to ask him “in person” about it. Unsurprisingly, he did not get disappointed.
“I wanted to really like ask him in person. I didn’t want to ask him over the phone or through text or anything like that… [he’s like] ‘No doubt, brother. I got you.’ And when I asked him, he was just like ‘Am gonna be honored and I’m gonna tell you why I’m gonna be honored.’ He told me all the reasons why and it made my heart full,” Butler told Fair Game in 2018.
When asked about what were “the reasons” why Bryant felt honored to work on his project, Butler simply divulged, “he just said 'You’re my brother. Long after basketball’ and I felt that immediately when we connected. That speaks volumes.”
From then on, Butler and Bryant regularly stayed in touch with one another. And according to “Tuff Juice,” Kobe often gave him important advice about writing which motivated him to write another book entitled “Shot Clock.”
“He did like a little moment with me prior to him passing,” Butler recently told TMZ Sports. “We connected and we talked about the writing process and how it’s so tough to be authentic and clear and real, but it’s exactly what the kids need… He always told me to ‘Tell your truth, be brave and people gonna accept it or reject it, but be brave in that process’”.
It’s been more than two years since Bryant passed away in a tragic helicopter crash. But it’s good to know that whenever Butler misses his old friend, he could just turn a page in one of those books.