Ex-NBA player Rasual Butler, wife killed in 'horrific' high-speed crash in California

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Former Los Angeles Clippers player Rasual Butler and his wife, Leah LaBelle, were killed in a high-speed crash Wednesday morning in Studio City. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Former Los Angeles Clippers player Rasual Butler and his wife, Leah LaBelle, were killed in a high-speed crash Wednesday morning in Studio City, according to the NBA team and authorities.
Los Angeles police responded to the single-vehicle crash around 2:30 a.m. in the 11200 block of Ventura Boulevard.

Investigators said Butler's Range Rover was traveling between 60 and 90 mph around a curve on Ventura, where the posted speed limit is 30 mph.

The vehicle veered out of control, sheared three parking meters, careened through a concrete wall and overturned several times before landing in a nearby parking lot.

The Los Angeles County coroner's office identified Butler as the driver but did not immediately release the passenger's name. The La Salle University product was chosen by the Miami Heat in the second-round of the 2002 NBA draft. He played three seasons in Miami and went on to stints with the Clippers, Hornets, Bulls, Raptors, Pacers, Wizards and Spurs.

On Wednesday, several of Butler's former teams and teammates issued statements of condolences for him and LaBelle, a onetime "American Idol" contestant.

"The L.A. Clippers are deeply saddened by the loss of Rasual Butler and his wife, Leah LaBelle," the team said in a statement. "Rasual will long be remembered not only for his accomplishments on the court but for his vibrant personality, positive outlook and the compassion he had for everyone around him."

Police officials believe excessive speed was a factor in the crash.

"This is a horrific scene and a tragedy that could have been prevented. This is clearly, at this point, an issue related to speed. It's something we all have control over," said LAPD Capt. Andrew Neiman.

Investigators were looking into whether drugs or alcohol were a factor in the wreck.

Butler's death sent shockwaves through the NBA.

"This is beyond a sad day for the Miami HEAT Family," team President Pat Riley said in a statement. "Rasual was one of the greatest people we have ever had play for us; a great player, teammate and better person."

Indiana Pacers President Kevin Pritchard expressed a similar sentiment.

"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," he said.

Butler last signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves in late 2016 and was waived that October.

Butler's wife earned a measure of celebrity as an R&B singer. She placed 12th in the third Season of "American Idol" in 2004.

ESPN and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
Related Topics:
traffic fatalitiescar crashcrashStudio CityLos AngelesLos Angeles County
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