Former NBA player and musician wife killed in car crash

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Former NBA player Rasual Butler and his wife, Leah LaBelle, were killed Wednesday morning in a car crash in Southern California.

The accident happened shortly after 2 a.m. near a shopping center in the Los Angeles suburb of Studio City.

Police received a call at about 2:30 a.m. of a car that had hit a building on the 11000 block of Ventura Boulevard. The vehicle was traveling at speeds two to three times higher than the limit, according to police.

Butler reportedly lost control of his Range Rover and flipped the car after hitting a parking meter and slamming into a wall.

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He was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, according to Los Angeles County Coroner Assistant Chief Ed Winter.

TMZ was the first to report the identities of the victims.

LaBelle, 31, was an R&B singer who was signed to Epic Records. She placed 12th on the third season of “American Idol” in 2004.

Butler, 38, played 14 seasons in the NBA after playing his college basketball at LaSalle.

He was drafted by the Miami Heat in 2002 where he spent his first three seasons.

Butler later played with New Orleans, the Los Angeles Clippers, Chicago, Toronto, Indiana, Washington and San Antonio.

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He posted a message on his Twitter account just hours before the fatal crash.

Butler last played in the league during the 2015-16 season.

Asked by USA Today in 2014 why he persisted so long chasing his NBA dream, Butler 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.”

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Scott Kelnhofer is a writer for The Western Journal and Conservative Tribune. A native of Milwaukee, he currently resides in Phoenix.
Scott Kelnhofer is a writer for The Western Journal and Conservative Tribune. He has more than 20 years of experience in print and broadcast journalism. A native of Milwaukee, he has resided in Phoenix since 2012.
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