It’s not unusual to hear stories from players who came from poverty, adversity, and all kinds of problems into becoming respected members of the community and their respective sports.
Caron Butler was one of the most respected players in the NBA while playing for 9 teams during his 13-year long career. He was a 2-time NBA All-Star and ultimately won the final prize – NBA championships.
Caron Butler’s biography stands out as one of the craziest “Started from the bottom, now we here” stories you will ever hear.
Butler grew up dealing drugs in Racine, Wisconsin. Despite his tall frame and natural ability, he never even imagined basketball as a career option. “It was just pastime,” Butler said. “The real goal was being out there on the streets and trying to make ends meet and make money.”
He began shooting guns at 9, dealing drugs at 11, bragging about his $10,000 stash, and nice clothes at 13. Butler had been arrested 15 times before his 15th birthday. He was sent to a juvenile correctional facility and, after an altercation with another inmate, found himself in solitary confinement. He didn’t discover his love for the game until he was forced to embrace it while serving time in a detention center.
That’s when he decided it was time to make a change. Butler focused on positive choices: enrolling in school, getting a job, and playing basketball. He turned his life around, of course, becoming a Big East Player of the Year at Connecticut, a lottery pick in the 2002 Draft, a two-time All-Star and NBA champion with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011.
Butler had a very impressive start to his young career, posting rookie averages of 15 points, 5 rebounds and 2 steals a game for the Heat, unfortunately losing the Rookie of the Year award to Amar’e Stoudemire.
He was traded around, playing for the Lakers and the Wizards, where he played the best basketball of his career, being named a 2-time All-Star. In the 2010 NBA season, Caron was traded from Washington to Dallas where he won his first and only championships even though he suffered a season-ending knee injury that season.
“The NBA, it’s a sport, it’s a game — a game that I love, a game that put me on this platform and brought me unbelievable blessings,” he said. “But at the same time, what are you going to use your platform for? What is your legacy going to be? What are people going to remember you for? Are they going to remember you for being just this basketball player? Or are they going to remember you for planting all the right seeds? I wanted to plant seeds.”